ROLDÁN paints a passionate geometry in his landscapes and a geometric passion in his nudes. The key to understanding his work is the delicate balance of curves and lines, his awareness that his chaos is not only “sacred” but perfectible as chaos, the struggle between the angel who inhabits the bodies and the cold devil (Nothingness is today’s inferno), and the balance of the geometry that supports them, or from which they emerge, the gateway to his struggle.

Roldán animates and embellishes female hair like an astronomer depicting a galaxy or a Renaissance artist sketching a chalice. Roldán is a Cellini with surrealist touches.

Cellini is a Roldán with touches of the sensual Baroque and Mannerist Virgins of Andalusia. Roldán is the last devotee of Rubén and the first of surrealism. Roldán is the silversmith of dreams and the engraver of the delicate alloy that is forged in the solitude of the body.

Modesto Roldán is the sensuality of Baudelaire rectified by the vigour of the Louvre. Pure contradiction, like Rilke’s rose, the internal tension of the image, the hand of the idiot savant with every day more method in his madness, in his painting, in his dying.


Fracisco UMBRAL

Madrid 1988

The impact was immediate (as it had been for Bellmer, Wunderlich) when we saw him for the first time at the Veranneman Gallery. No disappointment would later tarnish our fascination with this arrogant, liberated art, which confesses the unconfessable in such aristocratic terms that it raises all sorts of awkward questions for the easy comfort of our thoughts. But there is more! This complete atheist paradoxically evolves and floats in the current of the sacred more naturally even than the most devout. His pencil and brush reveal the luminous prolongation of sexual relations such as we Westerners have never lived like the peoples of pre-Columbian America, initiates from childhood of the wellsprings of life depicted in the sculptures of their temples and the decoration of their pottery.


Brussels 1972

If you were to ask me how I saw Modesto Roldán’s art, I would say that it felt to me like a horizon, a sweeping internal horizon. Roldán’s painting expresses something like the desire for the distant and the intimate that wakes us from sleep but lulls our daydreams. Spain is present in his work as a profound feeling that gently clutches the heart of the exile. All Spain is there in his brushstrokes, which distil the very essence of the original reality. All his strength. All his Spanishness. Roldán has so often painted Spain from northern Europe that it becomes eternal, much more Spain than Spain.

   Modesto Roldán does not live up to his name. How could a painter like this be modest? He lives in the village of Navalagamella, not far from Madrid. Yesterday I paid him a visit. His studio is his home, and his home his studio. It is something between a lair, a laboratory and a monk’s cell. There are paintings and books everywhere, for Roldán both writes and paints. His painting is literature and his literature is painting, and one can hardly tell where one ends and the other begins. There is a terrible consistency in this fierce, good, angelic, demonic man, at once Faust and Mephistopheles.

     Born in Huelva, he crossed the Strait of Gibraltar only to end up in Paris when Paris was a Spanish fiesta, filled with the dancing of fugitives from the Franco Regime. He devoured the nights of Montparnasse, lay with the demi mondaines and hung his paintings in the leading European galleries. He was at the celebrated orgy held in honour of Dalí, which was attended by the voyeur of Cadaqués himself, Arrabal, Eduardo Arroyo and a host of nymphs and satires. I missed it.

   Modesto maintains that man is a branch of a thirsty tree, seeking the water of the ocean between the female’s thighs. This is his anthropology, his cosmogony and his theology. It is also the leitmotiv of his painting: women’s legs, women’s vulvas transformed into sparkling lascivious jewels, cascades of gold dust, into fetishes, arabesques and convolutions inscribed on smooth skin. Roldán is an atheist, a Jacobin and a Bolshevik, but his work raises sex to the level of a liturgy, sanctifying it and converting it into a cathedral’s treasure, a processional image borne through the streets of Seville. The cult of the Christian virgin who was once a pagan vestal. Cela, Dino Buzzatti, Xavier Domingo, Arrabal, Umbral, Villán have written about him, and now he is the subject of El Lobo Feroz. In a fraternal embrace I whispered a phrase from Proust in his ear, as I thought of the words the snake hissed to her friend Mowgli, “You and I are of the same blood.”



Madrid 2009

From Mario Antolín Paz, “Diccionario de Pintores Españoles del Siglo XX.”

       Painter, resident in France since his youth. His work was first shown at the Galerie Kreuze in Paris in 1956 and has since been exhibited in various European countries. His work was presented at the Sala Bandrés gallery in Madrid as part of the exhibition Eros y el Arte Actual en España. He participated in the Venice Biennale in 1975. He exhibited at the Heller Gallery in Madrid in 1985, and then at Galería Faunas in 1992 and Galería Barrons in 1996. He has held more than twenty exhibitions in France, and as many again in other countries. 

     A painter with a disquieting artistic personality that combines eroticism and mystery, drama and a sense of humour, virtuosity and aggression, Roldán may be included in the broad category of fantastic realism, although he also partakes of the surreal and the symbolic. 

    Aguiler Cerni has written about his art in the following terms,  “Roldán’s proposal is to paint a reasonable absurdity. Classicism and Renaissance humanism join forces with Mondrianesque balance. Rough planes combine with insinuations of erotic fetishism, but the contrast between perspective, plane and geometric structure, between line and subject, and between asceticism and sensuality is not intended appear masked by dissimulation. Roldán uses incongruence precisely because he sees in it the possibility of reinventing the hackneyed business of painting”. His oeuvre is among the most personal work in all of today’s figurative art, and he is represented in various important European collections. 


Madrid 1988

  Modesto Roldán divined the world of solitude by mixing in equal parts the beauty and serenity that awaits on the threshold of death. This is why he is so close to Leonardo da Vinci, and he loves painting so as not to offend wisdom.

Thanks be to whomsoever, Modesto Roldán has not yet lost a certain air of rusticity, of those happy fields where the unconstrained souls of all Parnassus’ goats gambol in happy freedom without a stitch of silk or sackcloth to hinder their frolics.     

The conservative man believes God takes pity on those who have but a single dream, and the revolutionary proclaims that water too has its history. Modesto Roldán does not inspire pity, because he dreams a thousand dreams, all orchestrated by the common theme of woman, that subtle and insinuating uncertainty.

    Modesto Roldán is painting denuded, a nakedness that exists only to be caught by that rare brush the gods bestow with such calculated parsimony. Cicero said that all pleasure is a stimulus, a spur to vileness,  and indeed we all live our lives on the tightrope spanning the chasm of Hell. Only art can save mankind from Old Nick’s cauldron.


Camilo José Cela

Madrid 1996

He could be a medieval monk illuminating saints, for example. I would not hesitate to place the Song of Songs within reach of his brush to extract from it all its beauty and trembling sexual ecstasy. Pure imagery in nudes and still lives. Upon the shoulders of vagabond, spent desire, angelic bearers silently rock these bodies, these buttocks, these swelling, fecund bellies, these palpitating mother-of-pearl breasts, their outlines bordered with a filigree of braid.

   I do not find this duality in Roldán’s work surprising, because I see no contradiction. He evokes Zurbaran because Zurbaran enshrines the mystique of the object. And he goes on painting these incitations and revelations of the naked body because Modesto Roldán is the humanised mystique of the flesh. That is why his nudes and still lives harmonise and blend on a common note: both are an exaltation of matter.


Madrid 1992


Francisco Umbral (Madrid, 11 May 1932 – Madrid, 28 August 2007) was a Spanish poet, journalist, novelist, biographer and essayist. The winner of numerous literary prizes, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in a tribute to his career

Antonio Álvarez Solís (1929, Mieres, Spain), journalist and novelist. Álvarez Solís has contributed to the majority of Spain’s leading newspapers.

11 May 1916 – 17 January 2002) was a Spanish novelist and short story writer associated with the Generation of ’36 movement.  1989 he was awarder with the Nobel Prize in Literature