Cristino de Vera (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 1931) began his career in Spain in the Fifties. He first exhibits his work at a group exhibition at the Xagra Gallery in Madrid in 1952, a solo exhibition does not come until 1957 when he exhibits his latest work in Sala Alfil.
His roots in the baroque tradition and influences of people like painter Daniel Vázquez Díaz and ultraist poet Adriano Valley are crucial to his formation. His taste for the still-life genre is due in large part to Francisco de Zurbarán and Giorgio Morandi, artists who are responsible for the Tenerifian’s career path choice along with masters such as Van Gogh, whose work he sees first hand in 1960 thanks to a scholarship from the Juan March Foundation which takes him to France and Italy. Like him, Cristino de Vera is attracted to the experience of death and loneliness, issues that are reflected in his paintings and for which he is awarded the National Prize of Fine Arts in 1998.
Two years prior to that, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía celebrates the artist with a retrospective exhibition bringing the public closer to this artist’s drawings whose belated recognition is due in large part to his vocation as a hermit. This characteristic, together with the religious theme of his work, makes him an exemplary artist to be exhibited at the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos. The Abbey’s surroundings and silence can be found in his works, concerned with the metaphysical treatment of light and the deepening of reasons through repetition.
The fifty-two works exhibited in this exhibition are dated between 1998 and 2001 and have been produced specifically for this occasion. Generically called Silos and all created with pen on paper, these works arise from contact with the monastic space, Cristino de Vera’s first contact was through Gerardo Diego’s poem entitled The Cypress. He first visits it in the late sixties and now returns to reunite himself with the stillness and spirituality of a place that has previously hosted the work of artists such as Antoni Tápies, José María Sicilia, Joan Miró, José Manuel Broto, Esteban Vicente and Miquel Barceló.
The Indian ink used by the artist in these small-format compositions draw religious motives on bowls or small chalices, crosses, candles, crucifixions which do not show the face and skulls. Some of these stand out: the Triptych series from 2001 entitled Tríptico de las cruces I, II y III; Gran cruz negra en Silos (2001) which has its equivalent in Gran cruz blanca en Silos 2001; the series Ventana en cruz I, II y III, where the geometry of the cross is confused with window slats and four still-lifes.