Born in 1926 in the old Castilian town of Sotillo de la Ribera, Fermin Aguayo’s childhood was marked by the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. His father and two brothers were killed by the franquists, while he and his mother fled their home in a state of extreme poverty (his mother was to die of exhaustion a few years later). Silent, discreet and solitary Aguayo is an entirely self-taught (contrarian) who pioneered an abstract style of painting uncommon at that time in Spain (represented by the creation of the Grupo Portico of Saragosse in the late 1940s), a style that transposes, in a metaphorical and restrained manner, the violence and dramatic situations of the Civil War. In his exacting and unpretentious way the artist delves into the formal structures of the paintings of his elders — the geometrical, abstract and figurative aspects of their works as well as the techniques they used — in order to take possession of them, to become one with them, so that through painting the spirit begins to reveal itself in its unique and universal presence.
With his move to Paris in 1952 Aguayo began to experiment with a style of painting composed of layers of paint spread more or less thickly on the canvas. In their density, in their evocation of Castilian landscapes and their judicious blending of warm and cool colors — shades of ochre, Sienna pink and earthen browns skillfully orchestrated — these paintings conjure up the fleshy forms of his native land, as if the artist were seeking to rebirth through them. Little by little, however, the fleshiness gives way to an absence of thickness; and the paintings take on a fluidity, indeed a transparency, as if Aguayo were trying to lay a veil over the landscapes of his childhood, transforming and elevating them into landscapes of the mind.