The artistic and personal experience of Colectivo Palmo (1978-1987)
ENRIQUE CASTAÑOS ALÉS
History of Colectivo Palmo
The foundation of Colectivo Palmo in Malaga, in December 1978, was the result of the confluence by chance of different meetings, friends, and encounters which were being held during the previous months among different painters and other people related with the cultural scene in the city. One of those groups of friends was the one of the painter Jorge Lindell, the Portuguese engraver José Faría and his wife, Dulce Araújo, a couple who had recently come to Malaga and had struck up a friendship with Lindell. At the same time, in the last months of the mentioned year, the painter Dámaso Ruano and Lindell himself were making some mural for the Ronda Savings Bank, in particular for the branch that the bank had in Nueva Malaga neighbourhood, and they made the most of this circumstance in order to exchange views about their work and the market situation as well as the art galleries in Malaga. This last context, was rather pitiful, for the artists related to an avant-garde language and far, therefore, from conventional and strictly commercial approaches, not only due to the almost non-existence of private places where to be able to show that kind of proposals, but due as well to the hardships of contemporary art market, which was absolutely scarce and almost symbolic in the city. On the other hand, at that time Damaso Ruano was showing at Malacke gallery, in Paseo de Reding, owned by Salvador Díaz, an entrepreneur of the real estate sector. The system and the sale terms of the paintings prevailing then in private exhibition halls like that one probably encouraged in the two friends the wish to set up an autonomous and independent artists association where they sold their own works themselves. They had the model of Gravura in Lisbon, an engraving workshop under a cooperative society, to which Faría had belonged, and where an important number of people made engravings and they applied the system of selling their own production. It was a kind of members’ association, whose system was known by Lindell through Faría. With that precedent, Ruano and Lindell decided to create in Malaga a similar association, for which they had Faría’s adhesion. The following relationship was with Pedro Maruna; however, we have to speak about the second group which will finally merge with the aforementioned one.
Pedro Maruna, a Croatian artist who was a drawing teacher at El Ejido secondary school by that time, together with his wife Marisa, used to meet at weekends with Francisco Puche, one of the owners of Prometeo bookshop, and with the also artists José Miralles Nacher, teacher at Gaona secondary school, and Ramón Gil Alcaide, Maruna’s colleague at El Ejido secondary school, at Linares restaurant, by Casasola reservoir. In one of those trips, Maruna tells Puche that there was a group of artists from Malaga who were looking for a place to meet. Maruna had already connected with Lindell group. In fact, there were already informal meeting at that time among Lindell, Ruano, Faría and their colleagues at La Viña bar, in Plaza del Teatro, whose owner was one of Lindell’s friends, Ruano, for his part, had a meeting with the same purpose with the painters Jorge Lindell, Manuel Barbadillo and Enrique Brinkmann at La Paloma bar in El Palo neighbourhood, Emelina Fernández, future manager of Colectivo Palmo, and José Luis Espejo Saavedra future subscriber, were also at the meeting. According to Damaso Ruano it was in that bar and in that meeting where the first list of members of Colectivo was made.
As a result of the talks between Maruana and Puche, this one offered them the first floor of the building of Prometeo bookshop just for a very cheap rent. In the meantime, new members were joining Colectivo. Besides the mentioned Barbadillo, Brinkmann, Ramón Gil, José Miralles, Pedro Maruna, José Faría, Jorge Lindell and Damaso Ruano, other artists like Stefan von Reiswitz, a German artist who had founded with Lindell El Pesebre engraving workshop in 1970, Juan Fernández Béjar, Jesús Martínez Labrador, Pepa Caballero, José Díaz Oliva and Antonio Jiménez, joined it as well.
The place given by Francisco Puche, at number 3 Puerta de Buenaventura needed some changes. Meanwhile, in the mentioned bar at Plaza del Teatro, some informal meetings were held, when Colectivo had not a name yet, it was a short period of time when some people joined ephemerally the meetings, because just as they joined, they almost suddenly left. It is a stage of exploratory talks and of configuration of the founding group. New premises proposals were studied, as a place which was seen in Beatas Street, none of them, however, was accepted.
The library office was in the area of the first floor given by Puche, that part was the best and looked onto a corner. The main alterations consisted of, as it was a house, enlarging spaces between room, removing or widening the doors, but without pulling the partition walls down. In the place where the kitchen was, the engraving workshop was fitted out, placing a press which Stefan and Lindell bought, directly from the factory, in Madrid, for approximately 140,000 pesetas. The first rent charge for January in 1970 was 3,000 pesetas. In 1980, it was 6,000 pesetas, in the following year, 12,000 pesetas and in 1982, 14,000 pesetas per month. When Colectivo Palmo moved from Puerta de Buenaventura to Marquesa de la Moya Street, Puche was owed 84,000 pesetas for the premises rent, from June to November, both months included, of the year 1983, an amount which was finally paid in January 1988, after Puche had many times insisted on the payment of the debt, sending even a letter, formally demanding it, to the members of Colectivo on February 20th 1985. During the time which Palmo was in Puerta Buenaventura, the Prometeo bookshop paid for the expenses of electricity, water, caretaker’s office and telephone, rendering many services as reception of postal boxes, correspondence and other issues of minor importance. Anyway, all those interested knew that they could ask for anything to the bookshop employees, in order to inform the manager or any member of Palmo.
As a result of the alteration works which was necessary to carry out in Puerta de Buenaventura, an estimate was given for half a million pesetas. Through Jorge Lindell, who had some contacts in the Antequera Savings Bank, a loan was obtained for the sum of 350,000 pesetas to be returned within six years. In order to have that loan, Lindell had to mortgage his own house in Quinta Alegre, where he still lives, something which, as he confesses, caused some arguments with his wife, Elisa.
The logotype of Palmo, an open hand designed by Martínez Labrador which is on the letterheads of Colectivo, was inspired in the so-called «Fátima’s hand» (in reference to the daughter that Mahomet had with Khadija), a Moroccan Islamic charm whose figure has a flared shape and it represents a hand with the fingers stretched out. One of those hands, probably because, according to popular belief, it protects from diseases and brings good luck, was on the entrance door of the premises of Colectivo. The design of the logotype, was, naturally, approved by the members of the group. As for the name «Palmo», it was a proposal from Dámaso Ruano, who in one of the first meetings commented that the group should get on and develop itself «palmo a palmo» (inch by inch). Since the logotype was a hand, it is very likely that the term «palmo» (handspan) has to be understood according to the first definition of the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy: «the maximum distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger, when the hand is open and outstretched. It is used as measure».
The first person who was contracted for the administrative tasks of Colectivo was Dulce Araújo, Farría’s wife, who was proposed by Lindell and was working between December 1978 and April 1979. The way she was suspended from office and the contract of employment of the first Palmo manager, strictly speaking, Emelina Fernández, meant a first situation of tension and inconvenience among some members of Colectivo. The two main versions of the events are the ones by Francisco Puche and Jorge Lindell. Puche deals with this issue from a business and professional view. According to him, Colectivo offered a business dimension whose good development could not be neglected. In fact, among its objectives was to sell the members’ graphic works which were being edited each year and to get a reasonable number of subscribers so that the group was autonomous from a financial view. According to Puche, Dulce Araújo failed to fulfil those expectations, she could not manage to connect with people, and she did not make new subscribers, maybe because of her character, her inadequate aptitudes for that task or because of any other reason. He stated so in one of the meetings. Lindell’s version is bitterer. According to his own statements, just at the beginning of Colectivo there was a problem, because it was being rumoured that when people were going to buy or were interested in the artists’ work, Dulce favoured her husband’s production. Lindell says that on one occasion, Juan Béjar asked him to talk to him. They met in Larios Street, and Pedro Maruna was also there, Bejar told him that Puche had a girl to propose as a substitute for Dulce, in order to avoid pieces of gossip and rumours which were going around. Lindell, in that meeting, told Béjar that that opinion about Dulce was absolutely inaccurate, because he used to go to the Colectivo office in the evening and he could affirm that she showed the same interest in promoting her husband’s work as the ones of the other members of the group. Finally, Béjar persuades Lindell that the most appropriate thing to do is to hold a meeting and democratically decide on that issue. Lindell, actually, did not think that that proposal of substituting Dulce Araújo for another person was going to be accepted. But, in fact, those in favour for the substitution prevailed. According to Lindell, what was wrong was to hold that meeting taking advantage of a trip to Lisbon by Faría and his wife for serious personal reasons. When they came back and they found the fait accompli, Faría, left Palmo, very upset with the supposed trap laid for them. Moreover, Faría happened to be going through financial difficulties and at that time he had persuaded Stefan von Reiswitz to let him use for living the place where El Pesebre engraving workshop had been, in Bolivia Street in Pedregalejo neighbourhood. When we consulted other members of Colectivo, they disagree: while some of them admit that there was a sort of strategy in taking advantage of the Portuguese couple’s absence, others do not share that view and they simply consider that the meeting was held without any hidden background; On the other hand, Francisco Puche admits that Dulce’s substitution was «semi-traumatic» for Colectivo.
In May 1979, Emelina Fernández Soriano became the first manager of Colectivo Palmo. Her administration period lasted until August 30th 1984; she gave up her post because she was elected director of the regional Culture Department, and took up her post on 1st October 1984 (when she was elected counsellor for Malaga Town Council in 1983, she could combine her work at Colectivo and the election as counsellor because she did not have any post). Meli, as Emelina was called, came to Palmo thanks to Francisco Puche. This one knew her through Carlos Sanjuán, one of the coowners of Prometeo bookshop and a distinguished local leader of the Spanish Socialist Party. In fact, it was Sanjuán’s wife, Pilar Guerrero, the one who was Meli’s friend. In March 1977, a year before Palmo was established, Francisco Puche rented a space to Meli in the same flat where later Colectivo was.
It was not a secret for anybody that Meli was a socialist member. Her membership comes from 1975. There are, however, contradictory opinions among the members of Colectivo in relation to the role carried out by Meli, and, especially, in relation to the effect which could have made in the development of the group her political membership. Francisco Puche,in spite of having introduced Meli himself, states now that, with her entrance, Colectivo started becoming politicized. Puche did not like this evolution, in particular the progressive rapprochement to PSOE (Spanish socialist Party). Puche’s statements, however, are within a vague generalization, without making anything in particular concrete. This lack of concretion is even more evident in the available reports about Palmo, because in none of the minutes of the periodical meetings held there is the slightest comment from any of the mentioned members to that supposed politicization. In fact, comments on that hypothetical evolution may have been made, nevertheless, if they had been strong comments which had aroused a debate, undoubtedly, they would have been taken down in the minutes. And there is no trace of it.
Regarding Enrique Brinkmann, he backs up Meli by saying that everybody knew about her political membership, which, far from damaging Colectivo or having meant any kind of manipulation, it was in any case advantageous, because meli made use of her many contacts and connections with PSOE in order to get subscribers who could finance Palmo.
As for Jorge Lindell, his opinion is quite critical towards Meli. But in his case, he also makes vague generalizations, without giving any concrete data, except for the issue about the NATO referendum, which will be dealt with in lines ahead.
Whatever it was with regard to Puche’s relations with Meli, the fact is that the progressive conflict of that one with the direction, in his opinion, that Colectivo was taking, it made him to ask the members in a meeting to start considering the idea of leaving the place he had rented them, since he could need it to enlarge the bookshop. He gave a period of two years. In the periodical meeting held on September 2nd 1982, the members attending promised Puche to leave, in fact, the premises in a maximum period of two years. According to Puche, there were some misunderstandings, however, of no great significance. For instance, when he asked them to leave the premises within that period of time, there were some members of Colectivo who consider the possibility to ask him for compensation. In fact, it was not necessary that time, since Palmo, thanks to the steps taken with the mayor, Pedro Aparicio, from the Socialist Party, found soon new premises, facing Alcazabilla and Marquesa de Moya Streets.
We have to mention that Puche’s disillusion -a key man at the beginning of the adventure of Colectivo, and who, as he admits, he taught Meli about business affairs, telling her how to keep the accounts and advising her about how the business side, the financial one, should be managed- comes from very soon, over a year before the aforementioned meeting of September 1982. In a letter addresse to Emelina on April 6th, 1981 he handed in his resignation as a member of the general assembly, «due to personal reasons (I have had a dream) » -he literally states. His resignation takes effect in the meeting of 28th. When Palmo moves to Alcazabilla, in November 1983, he does not appear as subscriber number 1). Nevertheless, we have to say that Puche does not keep a bad memory either of Palmo or of Emelina, in particular. On the contrary, he admits the positive character of the experience of Colectivo and considers Meli as an enthusiast person with the project and professionally competent.
As for Emelina, she considers Francisco Puche as a fundamental piece in the origin of Palmo, to a great extent because of his ability to draw its members together. She remembers that when she took charge of the position of manager, Puche told her that her new post did not consist of, far from it, carrying out a routine wok, but that it was very important to be sensitive to the human element that made up Colectivo. It was not like taking the management of a private firm, although without neglecting, as it has been mentioned before, the financial aspect.
As regarding the move to Alcazabilla Street, Emelina is convinced that Puche really needed the premises that he had rented them, and that was the reason why he gives them a period of time to leave and to find another one. In her opinion, what could disappoint Puche was that Palmo became a cultural association, and, somehow, it institutionalized itself. The fact is that disagreements with Puche are earlier, since the first time when the possibility to turn Palmo into a cultural association is mentioned and is taken down in the minutes is in the meeting of March 31st 1982, whereas Puche’s mentioned letter to Emelina tendering his resignation as member of the assembly is almost a year before.
Emelina’s main argument is that the enlargement made in Palmo in 1983 leads to a confrontation between pictorial movements and different mentalities. First of all, we have to make clear the issue regarding the enlargement. From the minutes of the meetings it can be gathered that people linked to Colectivo, who support it, although they are neither plastic artists nor founding members, attend sporadically the first meetings. Among these ones we can mention Juan manuel calvo, engineer and painter Pepa Caballero’s husband, and lawyer José Luis Rueda. Both of them attend regularly the meetings held since September, 1980. The first meeting that we have a record to which poet and lawyer José Manuel Cabra de Luna attends is on March 9th 1981. It is very likely that at that time he became a member of Palmo, because in previous minutes his name was not mentioned. In the meeting held on September 14th 1983, they agree to accept as full members the following people: Juvenal Soto Carratalá, poet; Alfonso Serrano Larrea, painter and engraver; José Seguí Pérez, architect; Vicente Seguí Pérez, economist and brother of the last one; Eugenio Carmona Mato, art historian; Elena Álvarez Laverón, sculptor and painter; Antonio abad, art critic; Juan José Ponce, tapestry maker, and Francisco peinado, painter and engraver. Although his name is not in this list, by that time Damián Ponce, Juan José’s brother and a ceramist of small figures of kaolin, must have joined Colectivo, his first mention in minutes was in the meeting held on December 12th 1983. As for Peinado, if he was not in Colectivo from the beginning it was because he decided so. The group, however, always considered him as one of them. In the meeting of September 26th 1980, they agreed to have his work for sale and on the meeting of October 24th in that same year, they decided to hold an exhibition with his work.
Returning to Emelina’s opinion, she considers that there was a confrontation between what we could call the most conservative artistic current, made up for instance by Lindell, Stefan von Reiswitz, Juan Béjar and Antonio Abad, and another more innovative and progressive line, to which we could include Brinkmann, Barbadillo and Alfonso Serrano. Figuration was predominant among the members of the most conservative position and they were more inclined to the use of a surreal language, without excluding some sort of informalism, especially in Lindell, whereas, the other current had a clear inclination to abstraction, as time has proved so in Brinkmann’s evolution. Emelina felt inclined, in a natural way, to this last artistic and intellectual position. She recognizes that Barbadillo, for instance, taught her a lot, particularly in learning how to look at a work of art. As for Alfonso Serrano, was already standing out at that time because of his ability and his special aesthetic sense in order to design the setting up of exhibitions.
Jorge Lindell refers to the enlargement as a «second Palmo», implying that he does not identify himself with that new stage open in Colectivo. For him that enlargement was a personal contribution from Meli. He declares that Palmo turned into «something more controversial» from then, since «there were other interests», however, he does not specify which ones. In his opinion, there were some very unpleasant political arguments, as when it was discussed that the members voted in favour of Spain’s entry into the NATO, a proposal which, nevertheless, was not taken down in any of the minutes kept. It is possible that Lindell referred to an informal proposal, since it is not recorded in any report nor it does not seem to have been considered in any meeting. To that demand, «we jointly said no. That involvement [that one of Colectivo on the issue of NATO] came up because an advertisement was going to appear on a newspaper saying that the members of Colectivo were in favour of voting yes in the referendum». As a result of Meli «contacting one by one those who did not agree on putting their names in the statement of the newspaper asking to vote yes in the referendum, the relations between Meli and the members of Colectivo were becoming worse very quickly, likewise, Mayor Pedro Aparicio was not either interested in continuing supporting the project from the Town Council, expressing the need for Colectivo to leave the premises in Alcazabilla». In these statements there are at least three things which do not fit. The first one is that at the beginning it is said that to the proposal that the members of Colectivo voted in meeting in favour of Spain’s entry into NATO, they all «jointly» said no, and a bit later it is mentioned that Meli «contacted one by one to those who did not agree on putting their names in the statement of the newspaper asking to vote yes in the entry referendum», it is something which contradicts the assumed unanimity implied with that «jointly». Secondly, from Lindell’s statements we can infer that Meli was keeping whether a post or a close contact with Colectivo, because he says that because of the incident about the referendum, Meli’s relations with Colectivo were becoming worse very rapidly. The fact is that Meli had already been out of Palmo for almost two years, therefore it is quite unlikely that the relations with a person who had nothing to do with Colectivo and, therefore, did not take part in the meetings, could get any worse. Thirdly, it is not recorded in any report that the mayor had withdrawn its support to Palmo by urging its members to leave the premises given by the Town Council. Moreover, on March 16th 1987, when Colectivo was reaching its end, there was a protocol of cooperation between this one and Malaga Town Council, through which the Town Council promises to pay for the necessary improvements and the maintenance of the building, as well as the light and water consumption. According to this protocol, Colectivo would continue keeping its autonomy and independence; however, a member of the Town Council would take part in the meetings as a voting member.
The analysis carried out by Emelina in order to explain what was going on in Colectivo, the breaking up of its members at a certain time which we could be placed at around the middle of 1983, is not enough and it does not end that controversial issue, it is, however, an interesting theory. The differences of opinion among the members of Palmo, as it is usual in a so big group, are present from the beginning, but in a latent and not in a entirely open form. Indeed, what Emelina underlines is the fact that the enlargement makes public and provokes those disagreements, this together with the financial hardships of Colectivo, could undoubtedly speed up the breaking up, having progressively lost the initial enthusiasm. For her, nevertheless, the first years are indelible, full of dedication and optimism. In this sense, she appreciates very positively the experience of Palmo. She considers it as a period of commitment and altruistic dedication. On this matter, she remembers deeply moved Eusebio Sempere’s talk in March, 1981, with the artist sitting on a wheelchair and people standing on the floor because there was not room in the hall. This warm and moving talk summarizes the best of Colectivo for her, her desire to change something in the city and to change the artistic interests and the introduction to art.
Regarding the allegation of political manipulation, particularly in relation to the NATO referendum, Emelina points out that the plebiscite about Spain’s entry in the military structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was held on Sunday March 12th 1986, when she had left the management of Colectivo a long time ago. She admits that she asked the members of Palmo to vote yes, as the government of PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party) wanted, by urging them to subscribe a support manifesto in the press, as any other person with political responsibilities could have done. It was within her rights and from a democratic point of view, it was absolutely legitimate.
We have already mentioned that the negotiations in order to get new premises, once Francisco Puche expresses his decision fort Palmo to leave the flat in Puerta de Buenaventura, were mainly carried out by Emelina Fernández with the mayor. On December 14th 1982, Emelina addresses a document to the mayor asking for the full use by Colectivo palmo of a house placed at number 1 Marquesa de Moya. Only three days later, on December 17th, Palmo is registered as a Cultural Association in the Provincial Registry of Associations, dependent on the General Secretariat of Malaga Civil Administration. On March 25th 1983, the whole corporation of Malaga Town Council agrees to approve unanimously the mayor’s motion on allowing the use of the building in Marquesa de Moya to Colectivo. The certification of the secretary of the Town Council regarding the decision taken the previous month by the council Corporation is from April 7th. In this same month of April, Emelina meets in Madrid with the minister of Culture, Javier Solana, in his Ministry office, in order to reinforce their request for economic assistance asked by letter in order to restore the future premises of Colectivo. The assistance requested is 5 million pesetas. In May, Damián Quero Castanys, at that time Director-General of Territorial Affairs and Town Planning, sends a letter to Javier Solana interceding for Palmo so that the mentioned assistance is granted. Finally, in July, the minister himself sends a letter to Meli telling her that the requested amount of money had been rejected due to delay in the request, that is, for not having asked for it within the stipulated period for this kind of assistance of the Ministry.
On November 18th 1983, the new premises of Colectivo in Marquesa de Moya are inaugurated, in the presence of the mayor, a great number of people and with a wide repercussion in the local press. A few days before the inauguration, and due to the discontent and the criticisms which the cession of the building by the Town Council has caused in some artistic spheres, groups and circles, Emelina, in an interview published by Sur newspaper on November 3rd, states that «it is an absolutely legal cession» and she adds that although some members of those groups «have accused me directly or indirectly of favouritism», the fact is that «the request made to the Town Council could have been made by anyone».
The restoration of the new premises, whose architectonic design was made by José Seguí, increased in a great manner the economic hardships of Colectivo, some difficulties which were present during a long period of the history of the group and which hindered its normal development, especially from a certain date, which could be placed at the end of 1983. In the meeting of May 24 in that year, with a few people attending, the budget for the works in the building of Alcazabilla Street was approved in the amount of 1,600,000 pesetas (the restoration works were at the end 1,692,295 pesetas, 99,446 of that money was for light fitting-out), that amount required asking the bank for a loan, as they in fact did it, at the Antequera Savings Bank for 600,000 pesetas, to be returned in six years. Jorge Lindell acted as guarantor for that loan. As for the rest of the debt, it will have to be paid through the funds of Colectivo by an austerity policy. Some months later, in the meeting of September 14th, the restoration budget is increased in 250,000 pesetas, all that excluding the expenses on electricity, furniture and library, which was estimated in 400,000 pesetas. When Palmo was in the premises of Puerta de Buenaventura, the most common expenses were the ones of transport, carpentry and printing (as for the last one, the invoices sent by Montes printer’s were numerous). At number 1 Marquesa de Moya, the most common expenses were the painting of the walls, alterations (on November 22nd 1983, the works made inside were 320,315 pesetas, whereas in September 1984, the alterations again in the inside were a total amount of 212,000 pesetas) and telephone. The financial situation was precarious by the autumn of 1983. Palmo was owed the amount of 550,000 pesetas, and, since the number of subscribers is diminishing, it is necessary to allow the entrance of new ones. The maximum number of Palmo subscribers was fixed in 125. In theory, they guaranteed the financial independence of Colectivo. Nevertheless, it was evident that their contribution was obviously insufficient to meet the new debt they had. Unquestionably, the numerous activities organized by Palmo, among those we have to mention different prizes which we will deal below, would not have taken place without the public and private subsidies obtained. In December 1984 there were 110 subscribers, who contributed 220,000 pesetas, at 2,000 pesetas each one per month (in 1986 the membership fee was 2,500 pesetas per month). Just the fixed expenditure was the amount of 174,000 pesetas at that time. In that month the financial hardships increase, up to the point that Rosa Raya, the new manager, has not yet received her salary on January 28th, 1985. Expenditure clearly exceeds income. As the manager stated, it would not be possible, as it was traditionally done, to give the subscribers during the year 1985 the six annual graphic works. In fact, from that year four works of art were given to each subscriber.
Rosa Raya Castillo had substituted Emelina as new manager on September 1st, 1984, keeping the post until 1986, when she was contracted by the Culture Department of the Government of Andalusia in Malaga. The last manager was Nina Salcines, Vicente Seguí’s wife, who was in that post from October 1st, 1986 until the breaking up of Colectivo. There are receipts of Meli’s and Rosa Raya’s salaries. The wage of the first one was around 40,000 net pesetas per month at the end of 1983, while the second one earned 49,426 pesetas in 1985 and 52,735 pesetas in June, July, August and September of 1986. To have an idea of the growing financial hardships, we can show a short statement of account of Colectivo Palmo in the Antequera Savings Bank:
Balance 30.10.80 328,191 pesetas
Balance 25.02.81 308,804 pesetas
Balance 19.02.81 665,047 pesetas
Balance 09.11.81 222,287 pesetas
Balance 27.07.82 266,546 pesetas
Balance 27.08.82 380,312 pesetas
Balance 14.06.83 1,268,996 pesetas
Balance 29.08.83 268,958 pesetas
Balance 26.11.83 932 pesetas
Balance 30.10.84 79,533pesetas
Balance 07.12.85 170,038 pesetas
Balance 31.12.85 9,049 pesetas
The total expenditure in 1985 was 2,397,679 pesetas and the income 2,320,790 pesetas; there were some bills outstanding in 1984 for the amount of 350,423 pesetas. Apart from that, in 1985 some bills for an amount of 236,282 pesetas could no be paid, therefore the total debt was of 586,705 pesetas at the end of the year.
The financial instability, together with important differences of opinion among some members of Colectivo, will cause the first resignations since Francisco Puche left Colectivo. In the first place, in December 1984, it is Juvenal Soto who leaves Palmo; this one in the meeting of November 2nd 1983 had made up a commission with Antonio Abad, Alfonso Serrano and Vicente Seguí in order to help the management in programming activities. The method used by Juvenal to tender his resignation was through a letter where he expressed his determination to leave Colectivo, both because of «professional» reasons as well as of «disagreeing to assume some financial responsibilities which are from a previous period to his incorporation». I think he referred to the loan asked in May 1983.
Another important indication of the uncertainty and the loss of enthusiasm is the progressive lack of participation of the members in the activities which are made. Rosa Raya states so in the minutes of the meeting of March 26th 1985.
Being present Barbadillo, Brinkmann, Peinado, Elena Laverón, Cabra de Luna, Alfonso Serrano, Stefan, Béjar, Díaz Oliva and Ponce brothers, in the meeting of June 12th 1985, Jorge Lindell and Martinez Labrador render their resignation, the first one through a letter dated on June 10th and the second one through a telephone call. In that same meeting, the drawing-up of a document by which all members promise take responsibility for the bank loan asked and which was only guaranteed by Lindell. All those who refused to sign the document would have to leave Palmo. In fact, although Lindell left Colectivo, the loan would continue being effective until it was cancelled by him, since it was a personal loan and it was so stated in the loan policy. From that agreement which is now demanded to be written on a document, there is a precedent which comes from December 12th 1983, when there was an agreement in that meeting by which, if necessary, (for instance, in case there was not sufficient funds to pay a monthly payment) all members of the group would pay for the part they were responsible for, it was also decided to reduce the time for the loan to be returned.
The letter in which Stefan von Reiswitz renders his resignation is dated on June 17th:
Dear fellow members of Colectivo Palmo: On Sunday evening I had a long talk with Jorge Lindell, started with the purpose to convince him to continue with us. The outcome was the opposite. He explained tome the reasons for his resignation, giving me pieces of information and arguments which were mostly unknown to me, as a result he has entirely convinced me. Consequently, it is more reasonable that I have to resign as well. I assume all the arguments by Jorge Lindell, adding besides, that all that utopian optimism, all that blindness and all that chronic apathy have taken us to where we are now. I do not wish to go into detail because I love you all, and it is my fault as much as it is the others’. This has not a possible a solution now because we are that way. And besides, to top it all, a hostile Malaga, some adverse media, some official institutions which work all against the others, led by bureaucrats and incompetent people. Pending some better time, I irrevocably resign to all intents and purposes. Best wishes, Stefan.
In the following meeting of July 24th, the income for the sale of graphic works from Colectivo members in the Fuengirola exhibition held that month, 106,000 pesetas, made possible to meet some urgent payments. The financial situation, nevertheless, worries so much everybody that the manager offered up her post to the assembly, which does not accept her resignation. A new meeting at the beginning of Sepember with all the members to decide on the continuity of Colectivo was agreed. In that meeting, held on September 9th, the issue of financial shortage is considered as it was planned and the continuity or non-continuity of Colectivo is faced up to. In order to reduce some expenditure, the possibility to cancel the manager’s social security and to reduce her working day and salary was considered. These measures, however, were not carried out. This important meeting was attended by Antonio Jiménez, Brinkmann, Antonio Abad, Peinado, Vicente Seguí, Ponce brothers, José Seguí, Díaz Oliva, Alfonso Serrano and Juan Béjar, however, José Manuel Cabra de Luna could not be present, and he apologized by means of a very clarifying letter regarding the impasse where Colectivo was. In that letter, among others, he states the following things:
I am writing this letter for the urgent and meeting of September 9th […] I am sorry not being able to attend this important meeting where the life of Colectivo is going to be decided […] Palmo is either hope, desire for working and joy for the continuous surprise that Art must be, or it is nothing. It is right that the Authorities – already installed in the positions which belong to them – do not need us […] and we feel that. It is right that people are tired of the things we offer them (the graphic work has flooded the market and the homes; there is not anything which is more similar to an exhibition than another exhibition, etc). In view of this frame of mind, what can we do? First of all, to question whether it is worth what we do and what we plan to continue doing; on our behalf as well as on the others. And then take a decision, without fear or melancholy. A death does not have to be horrible, it can and it must be the culmination of a project and the seed for new flowerings, for other adventures. If there is hope, if we have a clear «aim», I am in favour of continuing, however, with new projects, perhaps with a different orientation which I have no idea at the present time. In view of the slightest doubt –and without any regrets or any fears-, I am in favour of dissolving, but not through a shameful and quiet death, but signing a death certificate the way Palmo deserves, with a great requiem, a great celebration from which perhaps some other madness like Palmo may be reborn.
The following two meetings were very stormy. In the first one held on September 30th, being present Díaz Oliva, Juan Béjar, Cabra de Luna, Juan José Ponce, Peinado, Brinkmann and Barbadillo, José Manuel Cabra de Luna clarifies Meli’s working situation, who is on extended leave of absence from her office at Palmo management. And, in case of leaving her present public office, she can return if she so decides it. Consequently, Rosa Raya is holding the management in temporary conditions. In the event of having to pay for compensations, these ones would have to be paid by the financial fund of Colectivo. Was the fund enough for that eventuality? It clearly seems not. On the other hand, those members present asked that their dissent on the way which the minutes on Emelina’s resignation had been stated should be taken in the minutes, «because it did not reflect at all the real facts which have been later clarified».
In the meeting of October 15th, being present Vicente Seguí, Barbadillo, Díaz Oliva, Antonio Abad, Juan José Ponce and Juan Béjar, Seguí underlines that there have been some tensions in the meetings of the previous months. Therefore, he proposes that joint meetings should be held in order to approve different projects without the consent of the assembly. They became involved, then, into an argument among those members present which ended with Vicente Seguí leaving the meeting. Moreover, this one asked that his dissent with the agreement reached in the previous meeting, where as we have mentioned before a complaint against the way which the minutes of the resignation of the previous manager had been stated, should be taken in the minutes. Meanwhile, the financial hardships which Palmo is going through suggest getting new subscribers to some ceramic sculptures following the design of four of the members of Colectivo. In case those subscribers could not be found for December, they would have to consider again the dissolution of the group.
A month later, on November 14th, Brinkmann says that he has had an interview with Rafael Ballesteros, member of the Congress from the socialist party, in which this has offered to obtain some financial support from the government for the project of Palmo. On the 27th of the same month, considering the members’ absence from the meetings, since there were only six people present, they ask the manager to send a letter to the members demanding them if they wish to continue belonging to Colectivo.
It may be deduced by the letter of Teodoro García Gutiérrez, Head of the Culture Department Office of Malaga Provincial Government, that this institution is ready to undertake a bill for the amount of 300,000 pesetas from the homage paid to Marcel Duchamp held in December 1984.
When the official dissolution of Colectivo takes place in December 1987, there had been little movement for almost a year and the meetings were poorly attended. By way of farewell, the members of Colectivo had their photograph taken on December 29th on the beach of Pedregalejo, published on press.
Nature and objectives of Colectivo Palmo
The nature and objectives of Colectivo Palmo are clearly defined in the Activity Record of 1981, where it is stated:
Colectivo Palmo is an association of plastic artists from or residents in Malaga, whose aim is the promotion of the contemporary culture within Andalusia, and in particular within Malaga. It also represents an alternative to the traditional art Gallery, to which it does not try to substitute, but to complement, supporting activities which galleries are not usually interested in, because whether it is not within their specific scope, because it is unprofitable, or because it negotiates with the local institutions the patronage of those activities which are considered to be of interest for the cultural development of the community. It is ideologically pluralist (in the cultural and wide sense of the word), its premises are at the same time exhibition halls, engraving workshop, meeting place for artists, performance stage, colloquies, happenings, recitals, talks, and head office of organization and coordination of those events for which it demands wider or more adequate places from other institutions.
In the meeting of November 25th 1982, being present Brinkmann, Martínez Labrador, Antonio Jiménez, Barbadillo, Ruano, Béjar, Juan Manuel Calvo, Lindell and Stefan, the articles of association are definitely approved and Palmo is established as a cultural association. We have to understand that these articles are from Colectivo Palmo Cultural association. As laid down in article number ten, the manager will be the responsible for the management and working of Colectivo Palmo, his or her purpose will be to carry out the decisions of the Board of Directors. It will be the only paid position of the cultural association.
Previously, and although the date of their approval was not recorded in the minutes, there were some internal articles, signed by six members of Palmo, with no names, which makes it very difficult to know who they are. These articles, which are the ones with which Palmo was usually working until the new ones were approved in November 1982, otherwise very similar ones, establish among their objectives the creation and the spreading of all kind of cultural-artistic expressions, undertaking to hold exhibitions, to create and to organize an engraving workshop and to promote the graphic work in galleries and national and international institutions concerned. The fourteen founding members commit themselves to set up a Coordinating Board with a maximum of four people for a period not exceeding a year. Once that period is over, another Board would be elected by General Assembly of the members of Colectivo. The Coordinating Board has a number of functions, as fulfilling the periodicity agreed on the editions of graphic works; summoning to general meetings, which will be legal whenever those present are 1/3 of the total number of members of Colectivo, taking decisions by simple majority which will be binding on everyone, and representing Colectivo against third parties. From the beginning, the subscribers of graphic works are considered indirect members of Colectivo. For the distribution of original graphic work among subscribers, Colectivo will buy the corresponding creator the edition right in the following terms: a) it will pay the artist an amount of money which will be settled in each edition; b) the usual edition will be of 150 proofs and its whole distribution will be decided in each edition; c) in the extraordinary editions the number of proofs and its distribution will be decided by the General assembly; d) After each edition, Colectivo will no make any other proof and will make the original plate useless, and it will be kept in Colectivo; e) The artist proofs sold by Colectivo will have the price that the creator decides.
Regarding the acquisition of works from the artists of Colectivo by anyone, in the meeting of March 9th 1981, they decided to accept the payment per month, making in each case a contract between the artist and the buyer. Colectivo would keep the 20% of the first payment.
Exhibitions, acquisitions, engravings and activities
The engraving workshop which was from the beginning in Colectivo was run by Lindell, who never received money for teaching. Among the learners of that workshop we can mention the painters José Guevara, Enrique Queipo, Rafael Alvarado and José Díaz Oliva.
Practically, all the members of Palmo exhibited in any of the places which Colectivo had, the one in Puerta de Buenaventura and the other in Marquesa de Moya. Without the aim of being exhaustive, we could mention the following exhibitions, which are stated in the record of Palmo: Jesús Martínez Labrador (December, 1979); Ramón Gil (April, 1980); José Miralles (May, 1980); Stefan von Reiswitz (October, 1980), who exhibits objects, closed in wooden boxes made mainly with tiny mechanical and electrical pieces, small wires and small hard plastic toy engines, as well as key rings, small heads and plaster extremities, columns and letters; Antonio Jiménez (March, 1981); Jorge Lindell (May, 1981); Pepa Caballero (June, 1981); Francisco Peinado (April, 1985) and Dámaso Ruano (June, 1987). There were also individual exhibitions from Díaz Oliva and Juan José Ponce, and a collective exhibition of all the members of Palmo, the last one was held in December 1986 under the title Iris, Liria, Delira.
Among the exhibitions outside Malaga which members of Colectivo and other artists related with them took part, it is important to mention the one which was held in 1980, at the Tórculo gallery, with graphic works from Brinkmann, Rafael Carmona, Díaz- Oliva, García Agüera, Ramón Gil, Lindell, Maruna, José Miralles, Francisco peinado, Francisco Santana, Diego Santos, Alfonso Serrano and Stefan von Reiswitz. At the same gallery, in 1982, the poet Manuel Alcántara showed his folder of engravings Hymns from Al-Andalus, reciting for the occasion a beautiful text published by Sur newspaper on November 24th. At Arco’85, several members of Colectivo took part in the international fair of art from Madrid using the name Palmo, although they paid for their expenses. These artists were Juan José Ponce, Lindell, Stefan, Juan Béjar, Díaz Oliva and damián Ponce.
The list of artists who did not belong to Colectivo and exhibited in Palmo is large, therefore, it highlights one of the main objectives of the group, in particular, to bring to Malaga the greatest possible number of languages and proposals which were taking place outside, although, naturally, the financial and space limitations were always very important. In chronological order, the following exhibitions can be mentioned: Collective graphic works of contemporary artists (September, 1979), with pieces of art by Miró, Chillida, the Japonese, resident in our country, Mitsuo Miura, Sempere, the German Schindehtte, José Hernández, Rixdorf, the Croatian Anton Cetin, García Agüera and Hernández Mompó; Joaquín Capa (November, 1979); Mitsuo Miura (January, 1980) who later made an engraving for Colectivo for an amount of 38,655 pesetas. Moreover, Mitsuo was a right-hand man of Palmo in Madrid in order to make some engravings; Jesús Molina (March, 1980), who showed some modules made in wood; the collective exhibition of José María Báez, José María García Parody, Olivia Carbonell, Rita Ruttowski and Elena Asins (November, 1980); the Panamanian Julio Zachrisson (January, 1981), a painter and engraver who has his roots in the indigenism and in the pre-Columbian Indian cultures, in particular from Mexico and central America; Tàpies (March, 1980), an exhibition which had a huge media impact because it was the first time that works, although only graphic one, from the great Catalan informalist painter, were shown in Malaga; Cristobal Gabarrón (June, 1980); Eusebio Sempere (March, 1981), where 4 serigraphs were sold for 50,000 pesetas, after having sent him a cheque for the amount of 100,000 pesetas, in order to start the edition of the work which was going to be exhibited in Malaga, and which was confirmed by Abel Martín on December 28th, 1980; Fernando Baños (February, 1982); Pablo Sycet (May, 1982); Josep Guinovart (October, 1982), who exhibited some works in which he use wheat, iron and stubble; the collective exhibition called Modern life (1983), held in parallel at the Harras gallery, at the exhibition hall of Malaga Provincial Councilin Ancla street and at the head office of Palmo, an exhibition in which the painter Joaquín de Molina fervently got involved, and in which, among others, besides him, there were fellow artists from his generation like Chema Tato, Gabriel Padilla, Carlos Durán, Daniel Muriel and José Seguiri; the collective exhibition called 20 Andalusian painters (November, 1983), in which besides the space in Alcazabilla, the hall of the architects’ association with works from José Guerrero, Luis Gordillo, Alfonso Fraile, Pablo Sycet, Pepa Caballero, Manuel Quejido, Alfonso Albacete, Julio Juste, Carmen Laffón, Claudio Díaz, Gerardo Delgado, José María Bermejo, Manuel Salinas, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, Juan Suárez, Ignacio Tovar and others; the collective exhibition of graphic works by Albert Ráfols Casamada and Joan Miró (January, 1984); Chema Lumbreras (October, 1984); Diego santos (November, 1984); Correa Corredoira (March, 1985); Isabel Garnelo (September, 1985); Rafael Carmona (November, 1985), who exhibited ten paintings and ten sculptures made in cypress and onyx wood from the Atlas Mountains); the collective exhibition of Rafael Alvarado and Antonio Molero (March, 1986); José de la Puerta (April, 1986), a painter with an extraordinary imagination and a very prolific production, extremely original and unclassifiable, who died only some years ago; Paco Aguilar (November, 1986); From sea to sea, a simultaneous exhibition of artistist from Malaga and from Galicia organized by Gruporzan, from Corunna, and Palmo (November, 1986), in which each group of artists was at the same time guest and host, so that the artists from Galicia exhibited in Malaga and those from Andalucia did it in Corunna. The Galician artists who exhibited in Malaga, in the head office of Palmo, were Chelín, Correa Corredoira, Pepe Galán, Pedro Muiño, Xoti de Luis, Antonio Mouzo and Cesar Otero. The artists linked with Malaga who exhibited in Corunna, representing Palmo, were Alfonso Serrano, Elena Laverón, Antonio Jiménez, Barbadillo, Díaz Oliva, José Seguí, Damián Ponce and Juan José Ponce, to whom Agustín Parejo School, José Luis Castellano, Gabriel Padilla, Diego Santos, Isabel Garnelo and Chema Lumbreras joined; Antonia Barba (January, 1987); the designer José F. Oyarzábal (March, 1987), who showed 20 lamps under the title Recreational physics. There were also individual exhibitions by Joan Hernández Pijuán, Hassan Bensiamar, Wil Wiegant, Sebastán Navas, Julio Juste and Benito Lozano, as well as a collective exhibition of Portuguese contemporary engraving.
The reason why an individual exhibition by Eduardo Chillida could not be held was because of the condition imposed by the Maegth gallery from Barcelona, in a letter sent to Colectivo in April 1981, by which if Palmo wanted to exhibit graphic works of the sculptor from San Sebastian, all of them would have to be firmly acquired by the group from Malaga.
In order to have an idea of the expenses that some of these exhibitions, or the acquisition of graphic work for sale and for subscribers, meant for Colectivo, some significant examples can be shown. An engraving by Tàpies exhibited in Palmo is invoiced by the Joan Prats gallery in 42,000 pesetas. In an imprecise date, four etchings from Amadeo Gabino, five lithographs from Luis Feito and a lithograph from Equipo Crónica, Josep Guinovart, Hernández Pijuán, Ráfols Casamada, Antoni Tàpies and Joan Pere Viladecans in 144,600 pesetas. The printing and the whole edition of an etching from Hernández Pijuán by the Vallirana Workshop from Barcelona, in June 1983, cost Colectivo the amount of 84,000 pesetas. In April 1983, the catalogues of the exhibition Modern life cost 31,200 pesetas; in order to hold it, Palmo contributed as well the sum of 25,000 pesetas.
Fortunately, there were also private purchasers; some of them were very faithful and generous. One of them was the University of Malaga, which in September 1981 bought two oil paints by Dámaso Ruano, an acrylic by Sebatián Camps and a drawing by Lope Martínez Alario for the amount of 164,000 pesetas. The same institution bought two oil paintings by Dámaso Ruano for 160,000 ptas in March 1982. The acquisitions made by Construcciones Pastor were also very numerous and repeated, although they were more modest. In October 1980, this company buys an engraving by Ramón Gil, Francisco Peinado, José Miralles and Enrique Brinkmann and a serigraph by Dámaso Ruano, Stefan and Barbadillo for 36,000 pesetas. In November of the same year, it acquired two engravings by Díaz Oliva, an engraving by Stefan, Lindell and Brinkmann and a drawing by Joaquín Capa for 21,000 pesetas. That same month it also purchased four engravings by Peinado for 20,000 pesetas. In March 1981, it acquired an engraving by Mitsuo Miura, Antonio Jiménez Niebla, Peinado, Sempere and Julio Zachrisson for 35,000 pesetas. In May, an engraving by García Agüera, Lindell, Maruna, Stefan, Brinkmann, Díaz-Oliva and Peinado for 44,000 pesetas, and in November, two engravings by Brinkmann, an acrylic by Lindell and an engraving by Díaz-Oliva, Maruna, García Agüera, Joaquín Capa and Francisco Peinado for 71,000 pesetas.
In May 1982, there is another exhibition which we must not forget; it is called Your favourite record, made up of record sleeves of nearly one hundred artists; the following painters took part in the Palmo exhibition, Alfonso Serrano, Alfonso Albacete, Rafael carmona, Hierrezuelo, Jorge Lindell, Lope Martínez Alario, Joaquín de Molina, Felipe Orlando, Gabriel Padilla and Francisco Santana, these ones are those who joined the Malaga exhibition. It started at the beginning of the session at Antonio Machado gallery in Madrid and it was a travelling exhibition with the peculiarity that it became increased with the contribution of new sleeves shown by the artists of those cities where the exhibition stayed.
Moreover, Palmo paid tribute to distinguished figures of the historic avant-garde movement. One of them was the homage paid to Joan Miró, in January 1984, in close collaboration with the Department of History of Art of the Arts Faculty and under the patronage of the Town Council, Provincial Council, and the Associations of Architects, Doctors and Graduates, and Pharmacists. It has a huge impact on the local press, with articles in Sur newspaper by Alfonso canales, Eugenio Carmona, José Manuel Cabra de Luna, Lorenzo Saval and Antonio Abad.
The tribute paid to Marcel Duchamp, held on December 21st 1984, was probably the most successful activity organized by Colectivo in the last stage of its existence. A theatre group found by Jorge lindell performed for that occasion. Damaso Ruano and Juan José Ponce made the design of the catalogue. The texts included in it were chosen by Cabra de Luna and Antonio Abad. The estimate for the catalogue was of 50,000 pesetas. A party wall was put in the main façade of the premises in Alcazabilla made by Juan José Ponce, who was paid 49,000 pesetas for designing of ceramics. Inside, the exhibition of the members of Colectivo was on a theme of their choice. Under the title Duchamp-irina, a separate sheet was published including a humorist-ironic text on the composition and qualities of the new medicine, as if it were a patient information leaflet. It was said in the same sheet that it was elaborated by the scriptural laboratory of José Manuel Cabra de Luna. At the back side of the sheet there was a poem by Antonio Abad, whose initial letters of each verse made an acrostic with the name of Marcel Duchamp. On January 6th 1985, an article was published in Sur newspaper by José Luis Ruiz Olivares called, «A Duchamp on sales» where the tribute paid to the father of conceptual art was fiercely criticized, considering its content as opportunist and distant from Duchamp’s legacy.
The Competition of Plastic arts annually organized by Colectivo was one of the most relevant activities. At first, it was called Exhibition Competition of Painting. That is the way it is on record. The first complete information which is available is of the second edition, in September 1982. The first prize, of 75,000 pesetas, contributed by the Provincial Council, was for Lope Martínez Alario, who was 25 years old at that time and who, on that occasion, made a statement to the press expressing, among other things, that he did not consider himself a clearly-defined painter. The other three prizes, of 50,000 pesetas each, were for José A. Villanueva, a prize contributed by the Architects’ Association; for José Ganfornina, by the Pharmacists’ Association, and Rafael Alvarado, by Colectivo Palmo. The professionals’ associations sponsored the event with 50,000 pesetas each one of them. The 3rd Competition, in 1984, had a first prize of 200,000 pesetas. The Provincial council, the Farmacists’ and the architects’ Associations were patrons again, these last ones with a joint contribution of 100,000 pesetas. The 4th competition was in June 1985. The winner was Isabel Garnelo. Among the finalists was Juan Pinilla. In the 5th Competition, in October 1986, the winner was Paco Aguilar. The prize was of 250,000 pesetas.
The Conference of Poetry in November 1985 was a private initiative by Antonio Abad, who turned to the Provincial Council in order to have a meeting where this subject was dealt. However, in the ordinary meeting held by the members of Colectivo on 26 March 1985, there were members who criticized this kind of individual initiative without the knowledge and consent of the assembly; hence it was decided that in future the approval had to be granted by the assembly. The Provincial Council subsidized the poetic series called, Verses for an autumn, with the amount of 148,500 pesetas. The poets who took part received 10,000 pesetas each. Among them, there were Pedro Molina Temboury, Joaquín Lobato, José Manuel Cabra de Luna, José Antonio Moreno Jurado, José Lupiánez and Fernando Villena.
The main printing carried out by Palmo was the folder of Arabian-Andalusian poems called Hymns from Al-Andalus, corresponding to the subscription of 1982, which was first delivered in September. Juan Manuel Calvo, as it is stated in the minutes, disagreed with its content and decided not to take part. It was made up of 12 works by Manuel Barbadillo, Juán Béjar, Enrique Brinkmann, Pepa caballero, José Díaz-Oliva, Antonio Jiménez, Jesús Martínez Labrador, Jorge Lindell, Pedro Maruna, José Miralles, Stefan von Reiswitz and Dámaso Ruano. It also included 12 Arabian-Andalusian poems written in Arabic and in Spanish and the same folder which was clothbound and silk screen printed. The printing was coordinated by Mitsuo Miura, it was made in Madrid and it cost 306,136 pesetas. The outer design of the folder is by Manuel Jurado Morales, painter and engraver, member of the engraving workshop in Malaga called 7/19. The edition of the folder was of 200 copies, 125 for subscribers and 75 for the travelling exhibition. This travelling exhibition was subsidized by the Provincial Council of Malaga with 200,000 pesetas.
Between October and November 1981, Palmo had already collaborated with the engraving workshop 7/10, in the organization of the 1st Congress of Andalusian Engravers in Malaga, an event where a series of lectures were given, and whose most important activity was an engraving exhibition held in the Alcazaba on October 27th.
In 1980, the production of graphic works of Colectivo was made up by four engravings by Enrique Brinkman, Jorge Lindell, José Miralles and Stefan von Reiswitz, three serigraphs by Manuel Barbadillo, Dámaso Ruano and Antonio Jiménez and a multiple piece by Martínez Labrador. The graphic work of 1983 for the subscribers consisted of a lithograph by Ráfols Casamada, two engravings by Hernández Pijuán and José Hernández and two serigraphs by Elena Asins and by Luis Gordillo. The subscription for 1984 was covered with works by the painters Josep Guinovart, Ibáñez, Gerardo Delgado, Julio Juste, Alfonso Serrano and Guillermo Pérez Villalta. In 1985 they gave a design by José Seguí, a serigraph by Pedro Simó, an etching by José Guerrero and a ceramics by Damián Ponce and in 1986 the subscribers received a multiple piece in ceramic by Barbadillo and another one by Díaz Oliva, a ceramic ceiling light by Brinkman and a wooden sculpture by Juan José Ponce.
The language of the graphic work of the members of Colectivo Palmo
The predominant languages in the graphic work of the members of Palmo while the group stayed active were informalism, surreal and fantastic figuration and geometric abstraction. Manuel Barbadillo, Pepa Caballero and Dámaso Ruano were at that time abstract, strictly speaking.
Barbadillo, by the time when Colectivo was founded, was leaving a creativity crisis that went back to 1973. The appearance of personal computers in 1979 makes him retake his work with computers, however, what he is going to do between the latter date and 1984 is to decompose four modules used till then in the basic forms that they were constituted. The two discovered elementary forms until that moment, the square and the quarter of circle, operate now independently, that is to say, they turn and change their positions or their colour, but without being integrated in modules. The constant experimentation of this stage will end up to be materialized in a new regrouping of the two initial basic forms in a great number of new modules, until being finally reduced, in 1984, to a repertoire of five modules. During 1984, once reached the system of five modules, the painter will carry out new combinations of the same basic forms that constituted the four modules already left. These new works present a more organic character, as well as a predominance of "flowing" movement, by the extension in his works of straight lines and more regular inflections. The computer is converted since then into drawing notebook. In the same year 1984, Barbadillo discovers two new basic forms and five new modules of identical profiles to the previous ones, but with a circle of the opposed colour in its interior. There turns out to be like that a new modular system of ten modules, from four elementary forms, that will accompany the whole last creative stage of the painter.
Pepa Caballero transfers to the plate a plastic abstract concept in which it is decisive the inclusion of collage and the rips of paper, in such a way that, in a line very similar to that of Dámaso Ruano, it provokes some kind of wounds and of fractures that break the linear speech of the geometric pure form. In one of her most well-known works, a grid sheet of notebook is superposed to another one, but letting the paper residuals remain after having pulled up the sheet of the rolled up wire that holds it, granting this way to the set a very direct and almost photographic stamp, a kind of « abstract hyperrealism ». The red and black zones of flat color, together with the white one, show us a chromatic absolute sobriety. The filamentous edges of the black spot represent another irrational and organic element that is opposed to the geometric speech. In another one of the most widely known works, an indeterminate form firmly anchored in its base, rises as a mountain on a green olive background that harmonizes perfectly with the black and the red one that accompany the mentioned form. Again it is the tear concept the one that is imposed, the incorporation of collage to graphic work.
Dámaso Ruano works at that time with flat colors, collage and ripped pieces of paper. His poetic art, clearly abstract, differs in the tension that relates the normative world and the instinctive cosmos. Or, to express it in other words, the geometric rigor and the subjective world of feelings, a fragile and intimate universe that Ruano maintains in subtle balance with the dictations of logic and of reason. In one of the serigraphs the composition has been structured as if it was processed as a double window, whereas the idea of resemblance and of seriation is the one that gives sense to his work. The only thing that makes a plane different from the contiguous one is the break of the paper in the inferior zone. Similar criterion presides over another pair of serigraphs, playing in this occasion with above and below. Triangular and trapezoidal planes of sky-blue, blue and dark green color are located on a dense black surface, a kind of bottomless infinite gap. We are before an indebted work of the constructivist vanguards, but which has also influences from the spacialism of Fontana.
Both Enrique Brinkmann and Francisco Peinado were making at that time a very peculiar figurative work, with elements coming from the fantastic figuration and from informalism. Without leaving necessarily the fantastic figuration, the work of Brinkmann is opened, between 1977 and 1987, to a division of the form, to a bigger concern for the spatial construction of the figure, being more and more frequent the almost empty areas that announce an evolution that will end up leading him in the nineties to abstraction. In one of his most representative prints of these years we can see a form with appearance of mushroom split into multiple fragments or cells, being the most typical the linear and filamentous graphic art that floods everything, as leaving perseverance of the value granted to the meticulous and artisan work. Another one of Brinkmann’s etchings is clearly figurative and delirious, with strange personages, grotesque and deformed, seated in high stools or reduced to a corner of the compositive space, being the seats in unstable position, staggering, as if they were going to fall down at any time. Everything, even the bulb that hangs from a ceiling that is not seen, is shaken by a pendular movement that seems to announce bad omens. Seeing this type of engravings, we can affirm that the work of Brinkmann is also indebted of the artistic Central European world, influencing him the German and Austrian expressionism. Although he is not either unaware of the artistic manifestations of the lunatics, an interesting chapter of the art of last century that could partially be documented in Madrid in the magnificent exhibition Parallel Visions. Modern artists and marginal art, held in 1993 at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
From 1981 the production of Francisco Peinado becomes less compulsive and more interested in the daily thing, without disdaining sometimes to risk in abstraction. As the decade advances, the work, sometimes, becomes more experimental, whereas others it shows a mysterious predilection for strange and unreal architectural constructions, for disproportionate personages who give free rein to the fantasies and to the obsessions of the painter, inhabiting a space unaware of the laws of physics and of empirical reality. Among those obsessions the most persistent ones are of sexual, religious and oneiric character, as it can be seen in an engraving of those years occupied in its right zone by an opened door on whose frame a woman who is possibly waiting for something or for somebody leans. All the surface of the plate is crossed by graphic symbols and lines that remember the informalist poetics.
Quite less figurative but equally of informalist and gestural roots is the work of Jorge Lindell, dominated by the black, by the filamentous graphic art and by distant architectural evocations. Leda, for example, is a very organic composition, of soft and wavy forms, in which we can infer the insinuating feminine form by one or two signs; in the same way that we know by intuition the neck of the swan in which Zeus was transformed to possess the girl. This is, indeed, a more luminous work, where white colours do not appear behind or hidden. In the opposite end, Lindell makes very dark and tenebrous compositions, with forms that do not represent anything concrete and that are constructed by means of stuffed planes of a dense and tight weft.
The serigraphs of Stefan von Reiswitz made during the time when he belonged to Colectivo Palmo show his interests in that time for perspectives. Making a refined and elegant use of collage, he constructs illusory architectural spaces in which the geometric tracing is mixed with the impossible thing and what defies the laws of logic. Columns, entablatures and classic orders extracted from ancient treaties of architecture, serve as stage to groups of smug beings of feminine appearance that rest their voluminous bodies in the paving. It is night and the moon shines in the sky, but a moon for which a golf ball has been used, whose homogenous small holes simulate craters of the satellite. The skill is impeccable: it is an authentic star suspended in the immensity of the firmament. A different one is another piece with a much achieved perspective of the interior of a classic construction of several plants from below up, in a low angle. Here Stefan, making also use of collage, simulates the representation of those fresco painted ceilings of the Italian baroque. However, in contrast to the rigorous tracing of the classic orders, of the pilasters and of the Dorian columns, the ceiling is occupied by a monstrous and irrational figure, whereas rests of some other artificial beings, robots or mechanical manikins, remain suspended in the air. The surreal reference, in special of Max Ernst is undeniable.
The graphic work of Antonio Jiménez, sometimes informalist, gestural and abstract, moves generally in an orbit similar to that of Brinkmann and Peinado. Nevertheless, there is a very sincere worry for chromatism. Among the works of José Díaz Oliva, one of the most achieved of them represents a surrealistic bird with a sharp beak, immense eyes and paws converted only into bones which seems to possess a strange bulbous appendix that in turn ends in a cubic structure. It is a mysterious, very well drawn bird, and with a dark intonation that underlines its enigmatic symbolic meaning, who knows if, when being a nocturnal bird, allusive to the spirits, the souls of the dead that are going to moan at night near their ancient homes. But it might also be, as in the universe of dreams, one of the symbols of the personality of the dreamer. The other work made by Díaz Oliva has a big feminine head in profile in gray tones as a principal motive in which an enormous eye is highlighted and whose superior area, that of the hair, has been holed and metamorphosed in a soft indeterminate form where we perceive some lines like strata of clouds ending in a pair of curled tufts. It is a surreal appearance that evokes the feminine figures of the Belgian painter Paul Delvaux.
The iconography of Juan Fernández Béjar during the eighties corresponds with a figuration of strong fantastic and surreal connotations, more baroque than in the previous stages of his evolution, more overloaded and asphyxiating, more leant towards the decline, the decrepitude and the physical deformity, in certain cases with a realism in the details and in the pathological features, both corporal and psychic, that provoke authentic worry in the spectator, although, on the other hand, paradoxically there is also in them a distant irony and a strange sense of humor. In other occasions they are girls or young girls who look amazed at the exterior world, or they contemplate it like suggesting that they have already taken a vital resolution, because, in spite of their young age, they are full of experience.
The work of Pedro Maruna is very singular and hardly classifiable, characterized by the use of organic structures in which there abound the elements with form of amoeba and some cells like scales, as well as by the employment of flat colors, especially blue, green and pink. We are in front a few primitive and elementary forms of life that seem to rest in an essential magma. Equally assigned to a surreal and organic iconography is the work of Ramón Gil and of José Miralles. Original, knotty and arborescent forms, that curiously remember some of the paintings of the artist from Malaga José Ganfornina, are those which integrate the compositions of Ramón Gil, although they might also be interpreted as organic fragments in decomposition. On the other hand, José Miralles lets glimpse birds, insinuating feminine bodies, monsters and distressed beings that ask for help. Again we are in front of a surreal oneiric scenery, in which the threatening and frightful thing prevails.
Jesús Martínez Labrador is an author of a beautiful engraving, very experimental and leant toward the investigation of graphic techniques, who gives supreme importance to the texture and the ruggedness of the paper. In the center of a steep rocky formation, a clean space is opened which includes a square in whose interior there is a starred form that remembers the caliphal vaults. Unrecognizable signs, as the letters of a secret alphabet, coexist with triangular figures, opposing once again the tidy and symmetrical thing with chaos and disorder. As for the star, it is here undoubtedly a celestial symbol, a symbol of the spirit, a force that penetrates darkness.
Alfonso Serrano Larrea used at that time a plate of iron to make his etchings, using a very direct technique of execution, without observable references of the history of art. It is a completely abstract work, without the most tenuous allusion to reality. It is a minimalist work, very dark and where the only signals are some parallel lines in both senses which interweave.
The Portuguese José Faría was characterized by the time when he was in Palmo for making a very precise graphic work from a technical point of view, of clear abstract informalist roots, with plenty of signs, tiny outlines, scratches in the plate and lines of filamentous appearance that evoke grass or entangled human hair. Light acquires a decisive importance, understood in contrast with the deep and mysterious zones of shade. Equally, the ample empty spaces contrast with the density of the dark areas.
The sculptural production of Elena Laverón is characterized by the presence of the hollow, the cavity that crosses from side to side a part of the body of the figure and that is only a reflection on the gap and the spatial penetration of the form. She herself has recognized the influence of Henri Moore, but we always notice a deeply personal language. Whether they are made of bronze, artificial stone or travertine marble, her personages, the feminine ones especially, offer some bulky and generous forms that equally hold a static and in rest position or they are liberated in a dynamic movement.
The tapestries of Juan José Ponce approach the simple objects, from saddle-bags and braided chairs of reed mace up to a simple blanket. He can just as easily be inspired in scenery and in still life as he can also make a completely abstract tapestry. In some works, he leaves as unconcluded the inferior half, being the threads hanging as fringes with a very pictorial effect. Other times, the tapestry acquires a consistency and a volume that provides an organic appearance to it.
The designs of José Seguí have an openly minimalist character; they are made of pure and essential geometric lines, establishing a dialogue between different materials, so much in case of a small lamp as of a clock. They are works thought to be placed in an office or in a desktop of functional and rationalist features, which is the language with which the objects designed by the architect are connected.
Traducción de José María Valverde Zambrana
 Both the two secondary schools as well as the bookshop are in Malaga city.
 The activity of Colectivo began in January 1970. On the 28th of that month, the art critic of Sur newspaper, José Mayorga, published a long article greeting this beginning and welcoming it as a cultural revitalizing of the city: «There in San Buenaventura, the name is familiar to me, something great starts which will widen art, its dimensions, in Malaga».
 Unfortunately, there are only minutes of the meetings from September 26th 1980. The whole 1979 and part of 1980 is not recorded. As for the great amount of documents of Colectivo, fundamental in order to reconstruct its history and to contrast their members’ opinions, was kept at the lawyer José Manuel Cabra de Luna’s’s house, once its dissolution took place in 1987. We have to mention that the successive managers carefully kept and filed all the documents, letters, receipts, bank statements and any other kind of information that Colectivo was accumulating in the ten years of its existence. Undoubtedly, it is a fundamental material whose reference is necessary. This is the first time its content is made public.
 The opinions of the members of Colectivo Palmo taken down in this text, come from the statements personally made by those concerned to whom this is writing between October and December 2005; We also have to add a great number of telephone inquiries made to artists and the remaining members whenever they were necessary.