To be included in the forthcoming Antonio Saura Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by the Succesion Saura and Olivier Weber-Caflisch.
"The female body present in the majority of my pictures and drawings since 1954, often reduced to its most basic elements and subjected to every category of anomalous and monstrous treatments, could be considered an example of continuity, of the constant and affirmative presence of the human being in Spanish art. (Antonio Saura cited in Antonio Saura exh. cat., Museo d'Arte Moderna, Lugano 1994. p.129.)
Saura painted his first solely black and white picture in February 1956. Lesa, one of the artist's celebrated series of Damas is a work of the same year which, as the title of the series suggests, takes the form of a female figure and uses it as a pretext for what Saura described as the "cathartic" act of painting. For Saura, the female figure, both real or imagined, was what he described as, "primarily a structural support for action in order not to lose oneself, not to be engulfed in uncontrolled pictorial activity where chaos and lack of moderation annul affirmation." (cited in Antonio Saura Museo d'Arte Moderna. Lugano. ed. R. Chiappini 1994, p. 129.) It was a starting point, or a means by which he could proceed to create a constantly renewable vision. "It is a question of activating an obsessive ancestral image without this implying a regression to classical structures", he has said. "This is achieved by using a supporting device which is both emotional and physical and does not depend on an intellectual process of synthesis, transposition or abstraction. It is in the course of action that new and extendible configurations are established, appearing after the event, always present, the disorderly framework of the underlying archetype. One gesture calls for others and the raw construction, miracle or disaster, rises and flows like an eternal river from the vertiginous accumulation governed by a mathmatical-biological logic. (Ibid p. 128.)
Like Francis Bacon, Saura often isolates the human figure against an empty monochrome background as a means of giving emphasis to his painterly investigation of both its form and its psychology. Saura differs from Bacon however in the fact that the psychology of the work is not imposed onto the figure but is generated through the act of painting itself and is expressed through the criss-cross drama of Saura's sweeping angular brushstrokes. In Lesa this sweeping sense of action expressing the psychology of Saura's painterly response to the figure is so extensive that the material substance of the figure, though clearly recognisable as a figure, is undermined and almost tenuous. The figure of Lesa seems to hover half way between material reality and phsycic projection. Lesa is both a real and imagined mental image that has been given life through the starck two-tone physicality of Saura's dramatic and excited brushwork.