Rafael Cano García (Toledo, 1935) is one of the most representative artists of Spanish art in the second half of the 20th century. He lived for a large part of his childhood in San Sebastián, until his transfer to Madrid in 1944 with his family. It is in 1948 when he began his training with Daniel Vázquez Díaz in his workshop, and he trained as a complement in the Circle of Fine Arts. During this moment he paints landscapes and portraits and studies the work of Braque, Picasso, and Miró. In his first works, he found a way to reach the avant-garde and, very soon, to deeply study abstraction.
He began scratching or squeezing the pictorial paste, making it vibrate on flat colored backgrounds, using a very material pictorial style. In 1957 he founded El Paso group with Luis Feito, Juana Francés, Manuel Millares, Antonio Saura, Antonio Suárez, the sculptors Pablo Serrano and Martín Chirino and the critics Manuel Conde and José Ayllón and shortly after the painters Manuel Rivera and Manuel Viola joined. Until 1960 they exercised a defense of informal aesthetics and openness to the international scene, which in those years marked by Franco was uphill. This informalism was the expression of freedom, of the unrepeatable and unique, as very passionate works that were generated driven by innate urgency. This position could not be maintained indefinitely, given that it did not consider it sufficient to express real, political and social tension.
We will see a constant throughout his work: the gesture, the matter, and the color. His work is unclassifiable within a certain style, although he will maintain these features at any time in his career. Three elements that will be presented alternately within an informal, figurative or abstract aesthetic. Within this stage, he composes a series of works of great expressive force, very gestural and with ocher, gray, white and black tones.
In the sixties also begins the series Characters, looking in some way social criticism. Then, in 1964, he left informalism and turned to figuration. He bases his new works on chronic narratives of the media, evoking urban scenes as a complaint.
Subsequently, between 1967 and 1975, these urban scenes acquire a third dimension and the colors are reduced to the gray and black range. These are «the reliefs», monochrome constructions halfway between painting and sculpture, made from emptied materials such as wood, fiberglass, and polyester. It represents arrests, prisoners, crowds, etc.
Canogar, faithful to a constant restlessness, returns to abstraction, which is now identified with a reflection on supports and materials. He exhibits his new work in the gallery of Juana Mordó in Madrid, with text by Daniel Giralt-Miracle entitled Rafael Canogar, between variation and evolution, where it is affirmed that art is still alive. The ferries wheel of styles keeps going around and signs of activity. For some it will be novel, original, unpublished; for others repetitive, recidivist, pure repetition. The exhibition will be exhibited later in the Christel gallery, at its headquarters in Stockholm and Helsinki. He travels and exhibits individually in the Nordenhake Gallery, in Malmö and Nordenhake Rykken, in Oslo, as well as in the Benet Malgram, in Gothenburg. The Estiarte Gallery in Madrid organizes the Rafael Canogar exhibition.
In 1975 the Bank of Granada inaugurates, in the city of Granada, an exhibition tribute to El Paso, on the occasion of the XX anniversary of the group's founding. Canogar participates in it and, along with other teammates, also in the round table organized for this reason. Travel and exhibit at the Nouvelles Images gallery, in The Hague and at the Punto gallery, in Valencia. Travel to Venezuela to participate in the First Ibero-American Meeting of Art Critics and Plastic Artists. It is also included in the exhibition organized by the Caracas Museum of Fine Arts. In 1979 He exhibited individually in the Sandiego gallery, in Bogotá, and in the Esse Arte gallery, in Rome, and in Spain, in a collective held in the Multiple Image gallery, in Seville. In 1982 he received the National Plastic Arts Award. There are his works in several museums of modern art: Cuenca, Madrid, Barcelona, Turin, Rome, Caracas, and Pittsburg.
Among the positions he has held is Member of the Board of Directors of the Circle of Fine Arts of Madrid between 1983 and 1986. Member of the Advisory Board of the General Directorate of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture in the periods 1981-1982 and 1983-1984. Member of the National Heritage Administration Council between 1984-1987. He is part of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando where he entered in 1998. In 2017 He participates in the ARCO Madrid International Contemporary Art Fair with the Álvaro Alcázar Gallery.