Esteban Vicente (Turégano, Segovia 1903 - Bridgehampton, New York, 2001) lives somewhere between two cultures. A disciple of Francisco Bores, during his beginnings he maintains direct contact with the Class of 27, with the likes of Luis Buñuel, Federico García Lorca, Rafael Alberti and Juan Ramón Jiménez. In 1929 he moves to Paris, where he meets, among others, Pablo Picasso, who unarguably contributes to his formation as a painter. His return to Spain is interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War and Esteban Vicente goes into exile. In 1936 he moves to New York, where he develops his artistic career and his work reaches the maturity that would establish him as an artist.
Just like his contact with the Class of 27, the Parisian atmosphere, the short stay in Barcelona in the Spanish Republic before his exile and his relationship to American Abstract Expressionism all influence his later work. The painters Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Marc Rothko, Barnett Newman and Franz Kline are part of his inner circle and with them he has the opportunity to share his vision of painting as a way of getting to know the world.
Esteban Vicente acknowledged feeling a huge enthusiasm for this exhibition at the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos, a project he never sees because he passes away a few months before the inauguration. Like the works of Antoni Tàpies, José María Sicilia, Joan Miró, and José Manuel Broto -artists who have exhibited previously in these walls- his pieces require a silence and full dedication in order to extract everything Esteban Vicente wanted to show.
His ultimate artistic ambition is to discover the physical structure of the world, to transcend appearance and get to the essence of materiality. This means that the commitment to maintain contact with the issue of what is essential is apparent in his pieces. His work reflects his fascination with colour as well as the actual process of painting and the moment the painter becomes aware that he has in his hand elements that allow him to reach what is material in nature.
The exhibition consists of nine oil paintings and two collages, one paper on cardboard and the other on canvas. All these pieces belong to the period between 1982 and 1998, his mature period. The exception is one piece that is considered the axis of the exhibition: the collage titled Black Susan (1968) which is more than one and a half metres tall. It shows how Esteban Vicente uses space and light, colour is forgotten and he paints with paper, as he does in other pieces with paint.
This also happens with the other collages in the exhibition, Untitled (1994), which accompanies the paintings entitled: Cantabrian Series: Divertimento (1982), Reddish Hue (Matices del rojo) (1986), Gloria (1987), At Random (1987), Entrance (Entrada) (1987), Lighten (1997), Intuición (1997), Luz verde (1997) and Untitled, # 3, (1998).
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