To the land where I was born: Yecla, Murcia (Spain)
To the land where I raised my family and made me a painter: Valencia( Spain)
To the land that completed my artistic training: Miami (USA)
When we visit an art exhibition and we observe all the work on display, there is always a question in the air, at least for me, why does this painter have this theme, what reason drives him to paint like this? Art critics write about the artist, trying to compare the work to painters already established by fame or by their past, but they do not justify or answer that aforementioned question so important to make a good criticism of the painter’s pictorial work.
Childhood and adolescence
I believe that when I was born God put in me the seed of painting as a means of expression, and communicating with others, because I have not been a good speaker, nor a good writer, I have not even received genes from ascendants that shine in these facets. In addition to the predisposition to art, my personal effort is essential, since my childhood. When I learned the first letters in school, I was so interested in doing it well, in structuring the texts and illustrating them, that the teacher used my notebooks as a model for the other children.
I was born on July 16, 1925 in a house on Calle Maestro Mora in Yecla, near the Hermitage of San Cayetano, which was burned in the war, and currently a market stands on the site. When I was 8 years old, I went to a drawing academy near my house, where they taught us to draw parts of the human body, noses, eyes, mouths, etc. among other things. I had a lined notebook in which I drew urban elements, houses, windows with bars, facades where we children scribbled, etc., of course with very simple drawings. I remember that in my short walks through the streets near my house, I was struck by the house in front of San Cayetano, the “Casa del Cura”, whose front door was sometimes ajar and a boy, a little older than me, with a black bib, whose name was José Luis, peeked out to see what was happening in the street and this attracted my attention to draw a picture of him in my notebook. On the other hand, I would go from time to time to said Hermitage to hear the chimes of the many bells, which, attached to the periphery of a wheel, turned vertiginously by means of a rope that was handled by the same curious boy mentioned above. It was the moment of the Eucharistic consecration of the mass. Of course, after so many times we became friends. After several years I found out that he was my close friend José Luis Castillo-Puche, this being the first time we met in our lives.
Later came the Spanish Civil War and my parents with my older and younger brothers, Serafín and Ramiro, were forced to live temporarily in Alicante and they sent me with my paternal grandparents Serafín and Francisca, who also lived on Calle Maestro Mora, the As farmers as they were, they spent the working week in the country house of the farm that they had about 15 kilometers from Yecla with my uncles Antonio and Ramón and my aunts Pilar and Celia, whose family cultivated the extensive area of land that surrounded the home. Even on Sundays I stayed with my grandfather on the field, because the town was very difficult and unsettled, because of the war, for a boy like me, tall, thin, about 11 years old and from a merchant family. There, on the field, there were no other kids. The nearest house was several kilometers away, I couldn’t have friends my age with whom I could communicate, nor was there a school nearby. I was bored and thanks to my artistic hobby I started drawing things from nature; and especially I drew my grandfather who frequently posed for me with his kind and light protest, again? He was an extraordinary model for his kindness, for his round face with that variety of values that time and hard work as a farmer had left on his face and on his hands.
After three or four months of being on the field, I asked my grandfather several times that I wanted to work like my uncles. He always answered that I was too young for such tough jobs. So, after so much refusal, I decided to take a big hoe and dig a plot that was no longer cultivated, whose soil was as hard as nougat. My grandfather protested saying that it was going to break my kidneys, but I continued with my decision, well, I felt as if I were a useless person, who wasn’t useless, that is, metaphorically speaking, I felt as if I were a stone of impure iron, taken from the quarry of life, which had to be purified on the forge of it. Finally, and after so much refusal, my grandfather gave in to my requests thinking that I would leave, given the hard work. And I began to participate in all the tasks of the field, taking care of and feeding the three pairs of mules that were in the stable, softening the vineyards, mowing, threshing, etc. But the result was the complete opposite of what my grandfather predicted, every time he performed one of the aforementioned tasks, it was like a hammer blow, continuing with the previous simile, which molded the mentioned stone to obtain the metal, and thus, hit to blow,
These reapers, after working all day in the bright summer sun, would return home at dusk and devour a strong dinner, chunky porridge (sausage or lean pork pieces) with lots of “spicy”, ribs of grilled or fried pork with plenty of bread and wine, and after taking in this amount of calories. men and women danced, told jokes, sang and laughed. I saw them and could not believe it, I wondered: what are they made of, how do they move after such a hard day’s work?
I was astonished and at the same time excited and I thought, these are healthy, simple and non-judgmental people. Well, this way of being was engraved in my soul as a young man and I wanted to be like them. In fact, I was one of them, since I participated in these harvest-harvesting tasks, his explosions of joy alleviated the loneliness of my soul as a child that I felt during those years, which seemed centuries to me, of the absence of my parents and brothers. This spiritual charge that I acquired in this great experience was imprinted on my heart and marked my future life and, therefore, my pictorial work. For the record, I am not saying this sadly, but as something positive that has made me value life in its true dimension, although sometimes as a human I failed at certain times. After the war was over, My family was left in a precarious economic situation and I had to start working in the Turu alcove, on some mechanical sieves that separated the grape pumace from the grape rasp. The work was hard, because the mission of us young people was to carry the baskets of scraps to a large pile. But those screens were going so fast that we had to run to give him the proper service.
At night I attended a drawing school as a gifted student, which D. Teófilo, a clever man from the City Council, set up next to our home located on Calle San Antonio on the corner of Calle Numancia. In 1940 I was awarded the First Prize for drawing at the Onésimo Redondo Murcian Regional Drawing Contest. In that year 1940 and after the experiences mentioned in this journey, I decided to study, with the reluctance of my father who thought that it was not a very wise decision and it was a late one, because I was already 15 years old. With the promise of a good use I began to study Secondary school, which was seven years at the time, at the Polytechnic College of Yecla, dependent on the Alfonso X el Sabio Institute of Murcia. In five years, studying winter and summer, that is, in 1945, I finished tHigh School with honors. In this year, a literary contest on Santo Domingo de Aquino was held at said College, in which I received a Diploma of Honor for the good work presented. At this time the Provincial Onésimo Redondo Drawing Contest sponsored by the Spanish Falange took place, and I attended with a drawing that represents a mother running with her son in her arms, fleeing from the bombings of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in the background and with an atmosphere of smoke and explosions everywhere, which received the First Prize of the contest.
Time of maturity
When I finished high school I was 20 years old, the war delayed my studies, I was already two years the boyfriend of my current wife, Josefina, the muse of my art. Therefore I had to study a profession that would allow me to perfect my pictorial art, which was my true vocation. I decided to study Public Works Engineering and at the same time National Teacher. In 1950 I was assigned to the Hydrographic Confederation of Barcelona, where my first daughter Dulce María, currently a sculptor, was born. And I attended the San Jorge School of Fine Arts. In 1955 we moved to Valencia, destined for the Júcar Hydrographic Confederation. In this city I attended the Círculo de Bellas Artes where we drew natural nudes and the studio of the Valencian painter Manuel Sigüenza, Sorolla’s companion and disciple, he frequently repeated that I had no problems with drawing and color. Since we arrived in Valencia, our civic life developed in this city. Here our three children, Dulce María, Emilia and Francisco Juan grew up.
Then I began my public pictorial career participating in international, national, provincial and individual exhibitions. Among the many exhibitions held, it is worth mentioning the one in London, in 1975, due to the circumstances that occur there. It took place in the “Sixty One (Tempra) Gallery Limited” and was inaugurated by the Ambassador of Spain Mr. Manuel Fraga Iribarne, giving the circumstance, that some one hundred and fifty meters from the gallery and on the opening day, a terrorist bomb exploded a few hours before the Opening. I was called since then Explosive Ricolópez “. Subsequently, the director of the gallery mentioned in the previous paragraph, Françoise Tempra, formed a quartet among her painters, in which she included me, to make traveling exhibitions with her pictorial works. In August 1976, he held an exhibition entitled ” Lyrisme Dans L´Art Contemporain ” at the Palais de L`Europe in Paris. The same year, I presented another exhibition entitled ” Lyricism and Neo-Tradition in Contemporary Spanish Art “, in celebration of America’s Bicentennial1976, at the “Chicago International Trade Exposition”.
In 1990, my wife and I decided, apart from the Valencia study, to set up another study in Miami, because all our children lived in different states of the USA, for reasons that are not relevant, Dulce María, married, and Francisco Juan, single, in Miami, and Emilia, married, in Tennessee. In that year, we entered the city of Miami as residents until May 10, 2010, and as American citizens from that date to the present, without losing Spanish nationality. During this American period, we shared our lives between Spain and American, carrying out my pictorial activity indistinctly both on one side and the other. My life has been very active and instructive in this long stay in America. We frequently visited Hawaii, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, Chicago, San Francisco, Tennessee, San Luis etc. Nature, which teaches painters so much, is aggressive and exuberant in the USA, the mountains are majestic and varied, the plains are immense as if they have no end, the riverbeds are wide and very deep, sometimes reaching a kilometer, the Trees are huge, cities with tremendous skyscrapers that defy the Law of Gravity. In short, all this American activity and all this contemplation of this tremendous nature, have greatly influenced my human formation and my artistic personality. the riverbeds are wide and very deep, sometimes reaching a kilometer, the trees are huge, the cities with tremendous skyscrapers that defy the Law of Gravity. In short, all this American activity and all this contemplation of this tremendous nature, have greatly influenced my human formation and my artistic personality. the riverbeds are wide and very deep, sometimes reaching a kilometer, the trees are huge, the cities with tremendous skyscrapers that defy the Law of Gravity. In short, all this American activity and all this contemplation of this tremendous nature, have greatly influenced my human formation and my artistic personality.
From this moment on we will go through my artistic activity, for which we will consider it for five years, since my curriculum, given my advanced age and the great activity that I have developed, it is very extensive and it would take us a long time to describe it annually. On the other hand, after this quick exposition of my busy youthful life, the question at the beginning of this analysis can be answered. My art is like a nostalgia for past things and a love for simple things, full of ideas, impressions, concepts and images, which constitute a tremendous spiritual load that I try to transmit to people, not to give them pessimistic feelings but positive feelings. of peace, happiness and love. After this journey from my childhood to the first five years that follows, I want to highlight – without being presumptuous – the great tenacity that has guided me, typical of the people of my land, Yecla. And my human trajectory, in the effort to avoid all kinds of ties that could separate me from my true vocation as an artist. The engineering profession was not an obstacle to delving into the study of painting, both in the aforementioned School of Fine Arts, in the Círculo de Bellas Artes and in the studio of the painter Manuel Sigüenza, which explains the great influence that this Master Valencian had in my first paintings. The American influence has greatly permeated my painting activity, filling the glass of my existing European training, giving my painting vibrant chromatic intonations with great expressive force and a rich, bright, strong colorist and, at the same time, sober. , maintaining the good work that personalizes my painting, and that for my great contribution to the enrichment of American culture, It has led to the obtaining of the Key to Miami and Diplomas and Awards in this city and its municipalities, and the “Featured Artist” Award in Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. However, I have always tried to perfect my artistic work, surpassing the teachings and influences received, and the hard learning of the study of the great masters, techniques and materials, and the meticulous observation of nature, to find in myself introspective motivations, always looking for the originality of a personal representation, based on my spiritual load from the years of youth, in order to become a teacher of myself and the owner of a very personal and humanized style. On the other hand, I don’t want to overlook the reason that made me entertain the idea of donating part of my pictorial work to my hometown, Yecla. Well, When I did the exhibition at the Museum of the Royal Houses of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) in December 2003, I invited the Director of the Department of Culture, Education and Sports of the Generalitat of Valencia, Ms. Consuelo Ciscar, who she replied with a letter dated December 1 of that year, thanking me for this invitation and showing her great satisfaction, that the presence of Valencian artists is increasing around the world, giving me his most sincere congratulations, with the assurance that the The show will be very well received and a great success. Well, this fact produced in my soul a great satisfaction and, at the same time, a great sadness, because I missed the congratulations of my Murcian and Yeclan countrymen. Then, the need arose in me to have more pictorial presence in my native land.
An important chapter of my pictorial activity is the portraits, since the goodness of them lies in the fact that the painter goes in depth in the study of his composition, and not only points towards the approach of the psychological expression of the portrayed character, but also institutes a new relationship between figure and space, by which the character is evoked in a deeply existential dimension, in accordance with the abilities and hobbies of the person portrayed, in order to perfectly define the personality of the same with very good physical resemblance.
My paintings are part of public and private collections around the world. I am extremely concerned about the quality of my works and the duration of them in the future, using fabrics and materials to prepare them of superior quality, giving rise to unique masterpieces. I am a member of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Art in Miami.
I am deeply grateful to all those who have made this retrospective exhibition in Murcia possible and I expressly express this in the credits of the corresponding catalog. This exhibition, at my advanced age, represents the recognition of my land for a lifetime of dedication to pictorial art. Yecla and Murcia gave me life; my inspiration and my livelihood has always been my wife, Josefina. And if it is true that, as a good Yeclano, I have been wandering and have received a lot from Valencia, where I have raised my children, I have mainly received my pictorial training and I also consider myself a Valencian painter and, currently, from the United States of America, but my feelings are born and must die in my homeland girl. Hence the importance that this exhibition presided over by the highest regional authorities has for me and my family. If the Murcian cycle began with an Exhibition in the Provincial Council in 1964, in which I received favorable criticism from the illustrious journalist, Chronicler of the city of Murcia, Carlos Valcárcer Mayor, the current exhibition is carried out under the good adventures of his son, and no less famous Murcian Hon. Mr. Don Ramón- Luis Valcárcer Siso, President of the Region.