It is impossible to describe Antonio López García simply as a painter in the “realist” school. His masterful paintings of the prosaic, familiar places of his world and of the family and friends comprising it reveal an unusual sensitivity to his subject.
Through uncompromising study of his subjects, he has imbued the commonplace with a haunting and extraordinary character, seen in his exceptional depiction of light—at once brilliant and subdued, ethereal and fleeting, and palpable.
His unrelenting examination and depiction of his subject means that he sometimes spends years to finish a single canvas. This penetrating approach, as well as his exceptional skill, has singled out López García as one of Spain’s most revered artists.
Between 1950 and 1955 he studied art at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, winning a number of prizes. While at the school he developed a friendship with María Moreno—also a painter—whom he would marry in 1961. He also formed friendships with Francisco López Hernández, Amalia Avia, and Isabel Quintanilla. Out of this nucleus a realist group, the New Spanish Realists, was formed in Madrid. López García became friends with Jack Chambers, a Canadian studying in Madrid. Although Chambers did not belong to the New Spanish Realists, parallels to their style can be found in his work created in Canada in the late 1960s.
Madrid of the postwar period was isolated from the international panorama of art and culture. All the information that López García accessed on contemporary art was derived from library books at the school; he gradually became aware of Picasso and other great artists of the period.
In 1955, a scholarship allowed him to travel to Italy with Francisco López and study Italian painting from the Renaissance. During this period he began to reevaluate Spanish painting in the Prado, especially Velázquez, a constant reference.
During most of his career, Antonio López García worked amidst an artistic culture dominated first by abstraction and later by conceptual currents. In the 1960s and the 1970s, his prestige quietly grew. It is possible to establish links between his work and the new European figurative tendencies or the American hyperrealism.
López has won numerous awards. After winning the III National Art Contest in his final year of art school, he was awarded a trip to Italy by the Spanish Ministry of Education, in order to study the works of Renaissance masters. He has also been awarded the Medalla de Oro from Castilla-La Mancha and the Community of Madrid, in 1986 and 1990, respectively. In 2004, López was inducted as an honorary member of the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and in 2006 he was awarded the Velázquez Prize for Fine Arts.