Contemporary painter Calo Carratalá was born in 1959 near Valencia, Spain, and specialises in figurative paintings of natural landscapes. He has travelled widely to destinations from the Amazon to Norway and developed a romantic view of nature, extolling its beauty and the power of the elements that make it up.
A landscape painter
Calo Carratalá began painting at a very young age. He studied Fine Art at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos in Valencia from 1980 and completed his training at the Spanish Academy in Rome in 2000. His time in Rome influenced his paintings' techniques and aesthetics. Notably from a formal perspective, Calo Carratalá produces large-scale works inspired by the frescoes on the walls of ancient Roman buildings, as well as tondos (circular artworks) directly inspired by those of the Italian masters.
Travel is at the heart of the artist's creative process: he immerses himself in the places he visits in order to paint them. He also uses the photos and sketches he takes and draws as preparatory studies for his artworks.
Calo Carratalá: a sublime view of nature
Calo Carratalá's painterly choices are influenced by a contemporary view of landscapes. While Renaissance painters saw representing the world as a way to understand it, Carratalá has a different perspective. He believes we no longer paint nature for the same reasons as contemporary artists find themselves facing a natural environment that needs protecting. He says: "For the men of the Renaissance, landscapes were an unknown to discover. But today, landscapes are something to be protected: a world of compartmentalised spaces, protected areas and nature reserves. This is why our view of landscapes is entirely different from that of the past." However, this change of perspective is mostly mental, as the techniques he uses create a common painterly thread following on from Renaissance paintings. From a purely technical point of view, the perspective is the same. Calo Carratalá uses the "linear" perspective documented by the Italian theorist Leon Battista Alberti in 1435 in his "Della Pittura" treatise. This means working with accurate proportions and the human viewpoint when painting nature.
The result is works that extol the grandeur of nature, which is turbulent, perhaps even worrying, and magnificent, and also generates feelings of admiration and reflection. From the snow-covered Norwegian mountains with "Benasque 1 (Large)", to the dense Amazon jungle with "Iron Jungles n°10", Calo Carratalá's contemporary paintings show nature's sublime character, in the sense that it transcends human beings with its vastness and the potential power of the elements that make it up. That said, the painter emphasises the personal viewpoint represented by each of his works: for him, painting is about introspection that encourages the onlooker to develop their inner voice and dream of faraway lands.
A career in the contemporary art world
Calo Carratalá's work has been exhibited at many Spanish and other European galleries since the early nineties. The contemporary painter sees painterly processes as important, ensuring they are visible in his work and winning over collectors and galleries with his pieces' strong presence.
In 2010, the City of Alicante commissioned him for an exhibition in a metro station focusing on his lapiz and carbon pencil work. The exhibition celebrated the artist's romantic work, including large-scale pieces which take onlookers out of themselves. In 2017, he worked on a very large private commission: a painting of a door on a sheet of metal titled "Amazonia’s Door". This showed the importance of materials seen as essential, whether that be wood, canvas or metal.
In 2019, Calo Carratalá's works were exhibited in a museum context for the first time at the "Baobab. La sombra de Africa" exhibition held at the Museo del Ruso in Alarcón, Spain. His works have acquired a certain standing in Spain thanks to public commissions; the artist has also won many prestigious prizes since 1995 in light of his captivating paintings.