Alfredo Roldan was born in Madrid in 1965. At the age of 22, having had no formal artistic training, he started drawing professionally, selling his work in street markets, at the same time presenting his work at major competitions, of which he won several. It was on winning the award granted by the City Council of Madrid in 1994 that he was discovered by a major gallery. His winning painting now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art, Madrid. In 1996 he was named a Member of the Senate "Honoris Causa" of the Academy of Modern Art of Rome.
The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, the oldest church in London founded in 1123, commissioned Roldan to paint an altarpiece of the Madonna and Child. In February 1999 it was unveiled in the Lady Chapel and dedicated by the Lord Bishop of London.
Roldan aspires to embrace those major Avant-Garde moments of the early 20th century, which has defined his understanding of colour and shaped his application of form and composition. Without apology he acknowledges the influence of Matisse and Picasso and also Modigliani for his elongated portrayal of the female nude. And yet, like all genuine and honest painters who recognise the importance and significance of those historic revolutionary styles, Roldan has assimilated each derivative influence to create his own personal and very distinctive style of painting.
Roldán's Madrid studio is the heart of his practice. It is not a solitary, exclusive space, but a stage set for human interaction, which allows his models to feel at ease in a comfortable interior. Figures are engaged in the rituals of relaxation, surrounded by the paraphernalia of the table: pots, bottles, vases, flowers and fruit. His compositions evoke a state of pause and tranquility, sustained by simple and everyday pleasures.
The paintings are sophisticated exercises in sumptuous colour and subtle tonalities. Rich passages of reds, blues and greens are played off against muted, earthy shades and ochre flesh tints. The flattened perspectives, fractured surfaces and graphic stylisations reference the cubism of Picasso and Juan Gris. There are echoes of Modigliani in the treatment of his female subjects and we can detect a homage to his 'heroes', Gaugin and Matisse, in his joyful and sensuous manipulation of colour.
His female subjects are inscrutable, their mask-like faces evoking the Cyladic geometries of ancient goddesses. Their eyes are empty, lacking pupils, heightening a sense of otherness and archaic, mysterious attachments. These enigmatic figures express a theatricality of self- presentation, which is deliberately seductive in its subtle evasion.
Roldán's paintings bask in the heat of Mediterranean sunshine and its associations of carefree delight. He makes a world of visual harmony. His is a sincere appreciation of the simple pleasures of the senses, which he asserts in a suitably stripped-down and shadowless painting language. The surface alone can be profound.