Fernando Zóbel (Manilla, 1924 - Rome, 1984) is a key figure in Spanish Art in the second half of the 20th century. Zóbel does not only stand out for his contribution to pictorial Abstraction, but also for his interest and patronage, which leads him to begin a collection that includes names such as Gerardo Rueda, Gustavo Torner, Luis Feito, Eusebio Sempere, Antonio Saura, Manuel Millares, Martín Chirino and José Guerrero. In 1966, this collection gives rise to the Museum of Abstract Spanish Art in Cuenca, a reference point for Spanish Abstraction in the Fifties and Sixties.
This retrospective exhibition addresses the legacy of the Philippine artist by looking at his later work, produced between 1954 and 1984. A total of sixty-eight canvases from his most important series, seventeen studies and drawings and eleven of his notebooks provide a global vision of Zóbel's Lyrical Abstraction. His compositions reflect the influence of Mark Rothko's poetry and the oriental sensibilities of Chinese Painting, from which he amasses an important collection of work.
Saetas is represented in this exhibition with eleven out of the hundred paintings comprising the series. It represents the origins of certain techniques used by Zóbel: his work with surgical syringes, injecting the canvas with pigments and which enable fine brush strokes and long lines. His painting is also characterised by the absence of improvisation and the perpetual search for the expression of movement.
In 1959 Zóbel attains his first individual exhibition in Madrid; the Biosca Gallery, managed at the time by Juana Mordó, exhibits canvases from the Saetas series and the early part of the Serie Negra, dominated by blacks projected onto large white canvas surfaces, for instance Ornitóptero (1962).
Landscape dominates his compositions, for example in the selection of paintings from between 1968, including Villar del Horno, El Faro and El balcón II, all of which are precursors to his most renowned series El Júcar, Serie Blanca, Serie Orillas and Diálogos con la Pintura, the latter a theme that reappears throughout his career and predominates his notebook work; moreover Cuenca, Sevilla and Toledo are also present in some of his most emblematic paintings.
Eight canvases are exhibited from his later period, including the triptych La cantera (1983). The polished conception of abstraction along with the intense and sombre chromatism in these later paintings alludes to Venetian painters, whose work he goes to see in an exhibition in Rome when he sees death looming.
Casa Zavala, Cuenca (May 23 - September 8, 2003); Sala de Exposiciones de la Caja de San Fernando, Sevilla (October 6 - November 16, 2003)
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