This canvas painted in oil by the Spanish painter José Gutiérrez Solana (1886 – 1945) presents us with a very common theme in the production of this artist: prostitution.
Here we are before a painting that he made between 1915 and 1917, and which is currently exhibited at theBilbao Fine Arts Museum. And the work shows us a group of Mujeres de la vida, as the prostitutes were euphemistically called. In general, in all the works he devoted to this theme he presents us with the most widespread stereotypes of whores, pimps and brothels, something that fits perfectly with the tradition of Black Spain, which relates Solana's art to Goya and to the literature of the Generation of '98.
Women in the life of Gutiérrez Solana
However, these would be the Hispanic referents of the work of Solana, but he is also an artist who knows European movements, especially those related to Expressionism, since it would be an artist that could be ascribed to that current. And although Solana did not travel excessively, not to say that she moved quite little, the truth is that her painting could be related to the German style of the New Objectivity that she represented at the beginning of the century XX the artist Otto Dix, author of works such as the War Triptych.
But back to Solana. We seea work in which he places the figures in the foreground before our eyes, and each one of them practically individually, without relating to the rest. He takes the scene from the brothel to the street, always with the women under the watchful eye of the madame who watches them out of the corner of her eye. And all this is set in a suburban street, providing all the sleaze that is needed.
It is a very expressionist painting, but it is achieved from an evident naturalism, passed through the sieve of a very opaque chromaticism, where the shadows are greatly enhanced and faded the light zones enormously.
Solana, in this work or in others of hers such as the famous group from El Café Pombo, shows us reality as it is, no matter how ugly, seedy or sordid it may be. This distances him and distinguishes him from other contemporary and Spanish artists such as Ignacio Zuloaga, who always has a touch of sweetness in his images, or the paintings of Isidre Nonellwhere it could be said that excessive drama predominates.