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The works that are exhibited here constitute a good selection of the work of the draftsman and painter of the modernist period Nicanor Vázquez. This artist was rediscovered some years ago as a result of the exhibition of drawings that Antoni Rovira organized in December 1972 in his art gallery. Subsequently, a new exhibition, this time in the AS Gallery, in December 1974, finally familiarizes us with his work. It seems strange that an artist of the merit of Nicanor Vázquez needed, a hundred years after his foundation, some exhibitions to return him a fame that logically he should never have lost. The explanation is clear: Nicanor Vázquez i Ubach, of Catalan origin, was born in Barcelona on August 4, 1861, where he spent seventeen years of his life. The years of his maturity, however, he lived in Argentina, far from the environment where he had trained. This caused that when he returned to Catalonia, in 1927, he did not have time to recover his place in the Catalan artistic world since he died in his city of Barcelona, ​​on May 16, 1930.

Nicanor Vázquez, strict contemporary of Santiago Rusiñol – both were born in the same year and Rusiñol died no more than a year after he – had with the famous painter-comedian his artistic origins in Paris. Vazquez went to Paris very soon, long before the famous estancias of Rusiñol and Ramón Casas in this city. I do not know the exact date, but the oldest dated drawings that I have seen of Vázquez are from Paris and 1882. Possibly it was that same year, and I might be attracted by the chronicles that Josep-Lluís Pellicer, artist for whom Vázquez felt a great admiration, sent from there to the “Diari Català” in 1880.

It is known that Vázquez in Paris learned the trade of lithographer and also attended the classes of the famous Llibre Colarossi Academy: but there what is seen above all are various notes from the street, most of which date back to the year 1883 at the end of which the young man artist lived in that capital.

The following years Vázquez already worked in Catalonia: Montserrat, Badalona, ​​Vallvidrera, Barceloneta, Santa Coloma de Gramanet, Cornella, Sant Genís de Horta, Figueró are themes of his drawings from that period, but above all Barcelona. The themes of the streets of Barcelona, ​​the fleeting attitudes of the pedestrians, we often find with the pad in hand. The historical events – the inauguration of a monument, the first stone of a convent, the floral games, the funeral of Verdaguer, the debut of a tenor, the Rull process – are themes that attract him and that justify that Josep Mª Cadena has qualified as an “art journalist”. This “art journalism” is not limited to his notebooks, but finds a public outlet in the graphic press of the moment, especially “L’Esquella de la Torratxa“. – Cadena finds his drawings between 1889 and 1907-, but also in “La Ilustración Catalana”, “Pen and Pencil”, “The Black Cat” in the calendar of “La Campana de Gracia” and with great intensity, also in the diary “La Tribuna” where in 1905 he had a great activity as a graphic chronicler using the lithographic technique.

Vázquez  also devoted himself to illustrating books. At the end of the 80s we already found the editorial López – the same as “L’Esquella de la Torratxa” – and throughout the nineties in the Montaner and Simón publishing house.  With natural notes, his favorite genre – his motto was “Natura est magnum magistrum” -, he obtained a diploma of honor at the First General Exhibition of Fine Arts of Barcelona in 1891. Vázquez participated with similar works from editions 1894, 1898 and 1907 of the same exhibition, and in the one of 1911 he was granted a second medal.

Apart  his plastic work, his teaching activity must also be mentioned in the Ateneo Obrero de Barcelona. There he had outstanding disciples such as Francesc Llop, Pere Daura or the Mexican Armando García Núñez. A constant of his work are the subjects on the sea: many of his notes – of Barceloneta, of Badalona – are cows, fishermen, seafaring people and this tendency of his by the sea took body at the end of 1911 or at the beginning of 1912 when He embarked on the steam “Argentina”, started his trip to South America and settled down with his family in Buenos Aires.

The following years Vázquez already worked in Catalonia: Montserrat, Badalona, ​​Vallvidrera, Barceloneta, Santa Coloma de Gramanet, Cornella, Sant Genís de Horta, Figueró are themes of his drawings from that period, but above all Barcelona. The themes of the streets of Barcelona, ​​the fleeting attitudes of the pedestrians, we often find with the pad in hand. The historical events – the inauguration of a monument, the first stone of a convent, the floral games, the funeral of Verdaguer, the debut of a tenor, the Rull process – are themes that attract him and that justify that Josep Mª Cadena has qualified as an “art journalist”. This “art journalism” is not limited to his notebooks, but finds a public outlet in the graphic press of the moment, especially “L’Esquella de la Torratxa”. – Cadena finds his drawings between 1889 and 1907-, but also in “La Ilustración Catalana”, “Pen and Pencil“, “The Black Cat” in the calendar of “La Campana de Gracia” and with great intensity, also in the diary “La Tribuna” where in 1905 he had a great activity as a graphic chronicler using the lithographic technique.

 

HISTORIC CONTEXT

CATALAN MODERNISM

Modernism is an artistic movement that arises throughout Europe (art noveau, jugendstijl, sezession ….) At the end of the s. XIX and early XX. It is originally a mainly architectural style that was developed in other plastic arts (painting and sculpture) as well as decorative arts. It is a genuinely urban and bourgeois style, the fruit of industrial growth in cities. The railroad, the steam engine, the electricity … were great technological advances that revolutionized architecture, and the rest of the plastic arts forever.

Catalan modernism can not be understood without the resurgence of the Catalan culture called Renaixença, and the spectacular industrial and socio-economic development of Catalonia. Thanks to this arises the modernist movement that serves the bourgeoisie to identify itself and express its willingness to avanguarda. Thus, modernism breaks with architectural neohistoricism. Modernist architects such as Domenech i Montaner, Puig i Cadafalch, Enric Sagnier, Rubió i Bellver, Jujol i Givert and the brilliant Antonio Gaudí with their particular oganic architecture. Modernism is characterized by its conception of Total Art.

In painting, there are figures such as Ramón Casas, Santigo Rusiñol, Hermenegildo Anglada i Camarasa, Joan Brull … All of them were connected to the Parisian avant-garde and held their meetings in the tavern ‘Els quatre gats’. Pablo Ruiz Picasso came out of the group.

Stresses the figure of Santiago Rusiñol because thanks to him and his well-known ‘Modernist parties’ connected the Bohemian Catalan with the different currents of the artistic avant-garde. In 1892 he bought a fisherman’s house in Sitges. The following year he bought the house next door and, joining them together, he created his house-workshop that he named Cau Ferrat (refuge for wrought iron, which he collected). Many painters, poets, musicians of the time passed through Cau Ferrat.

By: Kiwi Visual Studio