Ramón Gómez de la Serna knew glory in his lifetime, and in all justice; Alfredo González (Agüeria, Asturias, 1933), fortunately still alive and well, was born with the glory of a gift conferred to by an illustrator whose talent and strength never seems to perish when faced with a project. The truth is that they both complement each other quite well. And they are both what any artist aspires to be: brilliant, authentic, and original.

Alfredo must illustrate his memoirs. He is still on time. It will be a legacy that will allow us to remember him as he is, or as he thinks he is. And although I insist he does so before time runs out, he does not seem to be in a hurry. Now I understand: he is reluctant to illustrate his own life because he wants to continue living and painting about other lives. Alfredo wanted to be a train driver for Renfe, a lorry driver, and also a futbol player. He became a Dominican friar, he studied Theology and Philosophy, and though he left the Order at the last minute, undoubtedly grateful for its teachings, he preferred a career with a woman by his side. He worked with a tailor (who was quite the scoundrel) in Madrid during the years of hardship, he lived in Venezuela for a while, and returned to the land of Quevedo, Gracián, Goya, and Ramón, as reflected in some memorable travel anecdotes from when we traveled around Spain and abroad, and which no one could draw as he could.

In an abandoned village in León, an old neighbour full of resentment had lost his hand by act of his own donkey. The man cruelly killed the animal. He allowed us to approach him so we could interview him and draw his portrait. But when Alfredo began his work, the man grabbed and lifted a thick stick with his only hand and we had to run away before he could split our heads open. We ran down the hill as we had never ran before and never will again. In Moscow, Alfredo was sketching the Bolshoi ballet when he suddenly fainted. Being nearly 6’5 ft, his fall in the middle of the stalls during the company’s performance was spectacular. The theatre’s doctor came over immediately in a bad mood, and without a second thought, he slapped the illustrator’s face so hard we still doubt whether he did it to revive him or to humiliate him in the purest soviet style. Alfredo blames the KGB…

Ignacio Carrión

Self-portrait of the author