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Esther Boix

(Llers, Girona, 1927). Is a painter and engraver who began her career in the 1950s. Between 1965 and 1966, she was a member of Estampa Popular Catalana, a group of anti-Franco engravers who defended a form of art engaged with the people. Against the backdrop of the disintegration of Franco’s regime in the 1970s, the critical and political discourse of her painting became more pronounced. Many of her works (Planxadora III, 1963; Dona que frega, 1965) showed an early (and pioneering) concern with denouncing women’s oppression in society and the workplace.

boix_planxadoraPlanxadora III 1963
Oil on canvas
100 x 73 cm
Private collection
Many of the works produced by the Catalonian artist Esther Boix in the 1960s denote an early (and pioneering for the times) concern with denouncing the social and mercantile oppression of women. In Planxadora III (Ironer III), a close-up figure of a woman ironing stands out over a neutral background. The decontextualization of the image prevents us from knowing whether it is a housewife carrying out her chores or someone doing ironing by the hour. The imprecision of the surroundings, in addition to the solitude and self-absorption of the subject, provokes in the viewer a sensation of vaguely oppressive sadness.

La desesperada lluita per sortir de la carcassa I 1971
Oil on burlap
100 x 81 cm
Courtesy of the artist
Esther Boix conceived this oil painting after attending a meeting of anti-Francoist activists. The picture of the woman struggling to get out of a metal shell appeals to the need, which became very evident late in the Franco regime, to be freed from the corset of the dictatorship, but it can also be seen as an exhortation for women to be emancipated from patriarchal bonds.

boix_donaDona que frega 1965
Engraving on paper, silkscreen print
64 x 49 cm
Collection Museu d’Història de l’Hospitalet / Ajuntament de l’Hospitalet
During 1965 and 1966 Esther Bois belonged to Estampa Popular Catalana, a group of anti-Francoist artists who defended engraving as a committed form of expression that was close to the masses. Boix uses a language based on abrupt lines and stark contrasts between black and white that was characteristic of the expressionist realism cultivated by many Estampa Popular artists. In the lower part of the silk screen Dona que frega (Lady who washes )we see a woman who is on her knees scrubbing the floor; in the upper part, what looks like the interior of a woman’s prison. The piece can be considered a denunciation of the social and political oppression that women workers suffered under Franco’s regime.

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