The Painter, José Gausachs

gausachs foto 0007The perspective in which we are placed by this end of century, which is also an end of millennium, dominated, with respect to the development of visual arts, for the ambiguous and fugitive sign of the so called postmodernism, makes furthermore interesting and attractive the figure of Joseph Gausachs, an artist who already in the thirties of this century was " back from all the vanguards ", after close contact with the most select of the Parisian artistic elite , which allowed him to assimilate his freedom, skills and techniques, without accepting the limitations of none of his dogmatism.

An artist, in addition, who far from separating from his roots, deepening in the Catalan tradition not only of the impressionism of Casas and Rusiñol, and, as the critic Manuel Valdeperes said, of "the sober magnificence of Nonell", but even from the  Romanesque sacred austerity, managed to develop a personal language of his own with which he was able to catch on his linen an unpublished perception of the tropical Caribbean light.

From His Childhood in Sarriá To His First Parisian Experience

Joseph Gausachs Armengol was born on the 1st of May, 1889 in the population of Sarriá, which later became a poor district of Barcelona, In the care of a accommodated middle-class family. A childhood and a youth that should have developed without any problems were  nevertheless, darkened by adversities such as the ones he knew to overcome, like a trepanation he suffered at the age of eleven  that produced a paralysis to almost half of his face.

Subsequently, a spark of a  stone wounded his retina and almost lost the vision of one of his eyes. This fatality did not become an obstacle for qweryu  his artistic vocation consolidated by the formation obtain by studying in the Academy Baixas and in the Academy of Fine Arts of the Lotjía, and receiving also, according to Rafael Benet, some influence of the call "school of Sarriá, in which the great artist Towers Garcia ". lefts his foot steps.

That academic teaching, as routineful as it might seem to us, contributed with two key elements that provided solidity to the already  mature talents of Gausachs; those  were, his authentic technical virtuosity, which he did not obtain but simply perfected in Paris, and his established sense of discipline and diligence, that never diminish, not even during the last  years of his life, when his health became a little delicate.

One of his professors, Félix Mestre, said about Gausachs; "intelligent and skillful, tempered his academicism with a discrete dose of creed impressionism". According to account one of the biographers of Gausachs, A. Junyent. Mestre had  the ability to discover, among his students, which had authentic talent, and was exactly what occurred with Gausachs, who became his disciple favorite, and became his assistant for paintings of murals.

But even out of the academy they did not lack the intellectual stimuli. Was the Barcelona of ends of the 19th century and principles of the XX, where, according to the same author, they took a seat "the impressionism of Rusiñol and of Houses, the intellectual anarchism of Pedro Corominas, the architecture of Gaudí, the poetry and the music of Maragall, to Die and Pedrell, the theater of Guime-rá and Puig i Ferrater, the novels of Narcissist Oller and of Pompey Gener, with their petulant hat of musketeer and the prestige of to have been a lover of Sarah Bernhard. General headquarters of the revolucionarismo modernist was the bar 'Els Quatre Gats', by where appeared frequently a young one flacucho and shaggy, enthusi

It provided of an avid and awake sensibility and of a solid technical discipline, the artist was transferred to Paris at the moment of the boom of the Cubism and the Fauvism. where would find him the crash of the First World War.

The Gentleman Of Montparnasse

montparnase 150x228Installed in Montparnasse. Gausachs enjoyed the narrow contact and the stimulating exchange of ideas and enthusiasm with the best-known among the artists of its time, like Modigliani (of whose work was converted with the time in an authentic expert). Gargallo. Utrillo. Juan Gray. Chirico. Fujita. Picasso. Marquet. Bracque. Marc Chagall.

He then passes from impressionism to Cubism,  Dadaism, Surrealism...  from this last one he was attracted above all by the practice of the dactilism and the special sensibility for capturing the fantastic and magical side of things that never abandoned him  and is found on  the root of all aspects of his peculiar vision of the Caribbean world which possibly even had an influence on Wolfredo Lam.

From the expressionism and the neoexpresionismo he took, perhaps, some of the most characteristic traces of his style. Nervous tremulous graphics, that at the same time were gifted with energetic crafted and secure sinthesis that affirms without doubts the integrity of the object, without concessions to divisionism but that Paradoxicaly incorporates the tonal sensibility and the serene luminous lyricism of the impressionistic models. Especially on the painting of landscapes, of which Jose Gausachs was a consummate master.

The gentleman of Montparnasse", nickname with wich Josep Gausachs  was known back then in that small artistic Parisian world, at the time he worked with a reduced palette , of white, black, blue cobalt, yellow cadmium and emerald. which were sufficient for him to reach the enthusiastic compliment of the critics, including the remarkable critics of. Pernaud, art critic of "L´lntransigeant", who affirmed then that Josep Gausachs painted "with the colors of the French flag", with that typical tendency of considering and absorbing the foreign talents during his time in French grounds and developing and making it  his own.. Charensol, from "Les Nouvelles Literaires", did not remain behind he considers the artist as one of the finest representatives of the school of painting, and the same can be told about Christian Zervos and Waldemar George.

tzaramanrayAt the moment of Gausachs, the manifesto compliment of Picasso and of Albert Marquet, were also there.  who stood before one of its pictures admitting: "¡This picture had wanted it to paint I!" Finally Tristán Tzara expressed growth to the quality of the man and of the artist that was Josep Gausachs, giving him an and a box of paintings, that still conserve, as a valuable relic, the relatives of the Catalonian painter.

Gausachs exposed repeatedly in Paris, in the galleries of They go Ogen. Pierre and Vidrach, and in Brussels and Amsterdam. Little by little a reputation in growing boom managed to work, and that had given still more yielded fruits if had remained in Paris al to finish the World War, in an exceptional moment of inflation of the prices in the artistic market. For it counted already with proposed attractions of various acquaintances "marchands of tableaux". But family obligations would oblige to return to the City Condal, with what a new chapter of its life was initiated and its work.

The Mediterranean Light

Of return in Barcelona, Gausachs was dedicated to the docencia in the Academy of Fine Arts, where would teach the technique of the repujado of the for sixteen years, technical leather that knew to the perfection by to have dedicated to its practice during its continuance in Paris, al time that painted and carried out expositions.

Also in Spain their activity expositora was it sufficient important by the quality and the quantity so that the press and the criticism of the thirties in Catalonia and in Spain they assigned him a noticeable place. The historian of the art Juan Antonio Merry Ñuño did not doubt in considering it as one of the most representative examples of the Catalonian school of painting during the first half of the 20th century. All which he does paradoxical, although not less certain, the affirmation of Manuel Trens that Gausachs had not left to be, in its land, "a great stranger". Opinion this that expressed in the catalogue of a retrospective that to posthumous title dedicated him in 1964 the gallery of art Syra, of Barcelona.

This great oversight was owed, without doubt, to personal and political circumstances. Gausachs was converted, owed al crash of the civil War of 1936, in another of so many intellectuals and artists that formed part of that "Spain of the Exodus" and to which the culture of the America Spanish owes a recognition that barely now is valuing itself in its just measure. The absence and the subsequent silence they erased during years the memory of a work of exceptional quality. But possibly it have contributed also al relative ignorance of Gausachs by the new generations in Spain (another thing is the Dominican Republic, where worked during two decades and several generations of artists recognize it with pride as their indisputable teacher) the same independence and nobility of their character, alien to the lobbies and the advertising management that so much they abound in the world of the art, producing by the treta and the Prestiges so fulgurantes as unwarranted and, likewise, ephemeral.

After a first exposition in the Galleries Dalmau, to which the criticism of the epoch attributed a certain one decorativismo, in recent months of 1931 Gausachs presented in Galleries Layetanas a collection of drawings to the watered down one, some colored, of landscapes of the Valley of I Throw, in the aragonese Pyrenee, that the newspaper "The Publicitat" of December eleven characterizes as "subjective glosses of a fugitive vision qualified Expressionism tempered by a sentimental abandonment". In them trasparecen those shades neorrománticos that some have wanted to see later in Gausachs, and that are guaranteed in the work of an artist that, as consigned Rafael Benet November 26 in "Window", already was known by the from barcelona criticism as a "divisionista", that covered its fabrics, like those of Dalmau, with pinceladas long and vertical; Later as a "fauve" creative of images amosaicadas, and, Finally, by a brief time, like the surrealist. Benet did not doubt, therefore, of the notably restless character of Gausachs neither of an Europeanism of the one that gave faith their Parisian successes, but considered opportune to add that the fabrics and drawings of their more recent production of then showed that besides a man of their time, and to be it truly. Gausachs had some deep and indisputable roots in its own tradition.

In February of 1932 exposed again, now paintings, and in the Even Room. Ráfols. Benet. F. V. Foix spoke then of "neofauvismo" in the painting of Gausachs. or of a "beating of the Fauvism enriched, besides, by a personal vision", Foix. Or "Focius", is converted then in the angriest defender of the work of Gausachs. The exposition of the Even Room is converted then in the pretext for the celebration of a homage al artist in the "Lyon d' Or", al that attended, among others, the critical Sebastián Gasch. Foix and Benet. the artists Grau Room. Fenosa Obiols. Besides J. A. Maragall and the poet Decay Ribas, who dedicated a poem al honored.

But besides the twenty-seven cloths of the Even Room, that understood above all landscapes and figures. Gausachs present was done that year in the from barcelona artistic world by its participation in the "Parlor of Montjui' c". Where the press names him among the "master" such as Caries, Mercado Labarta, Domingo y Pidelaserra.

In 1934 and 1935 Guasachs exposed landscapes of Ibiza and Majorca, where was painting and working the art of the vitral,and respectively, of Collicabra. The strong brightness of the mediterranean landscape, that without gradations neither shades, as affirmed a critic (A. Flat, of "The Vanguard"), puts in the first plan all the objects, without "half measures", "brutally", is assumed with the same accuracy perceptual that the fogs and variations infinitesimales that in their previous landscapes define it as a virtuous one of the tonal appraisal.

Also it exposed, like the balearic islands, in Valencian Galenas, the landscapes of Collicabra manage to maintain, by the tonal precision of the pincelada, all the luminous vibration of the atmosphere. A tone a the more dramatic and contrasted is shown in the still lifes of then, like that of "The Bleda". of 1934, presented by the artist in the Parlor of Montjui' c of that year, and that immediately was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art of Catalonia.

A cromatismo that avoids always the estridencia, but never the harmonización audacious of blue and red brilliant, a pincelada long and spontaneous, a sure drawing and fluid, they corroborate the impression of maturity that the painting of Gausachs produces then in the criticism of the epoch, and that culminates funnily in their pictures of flowers, that have all the joy and the coolness of those of Redon.

Also in 1935 it exposes Gausachs in the Room Bigas and in Vic. Does not it leave for then to enter in the art of the portrait, often with romantic unpleasant aftertaste, or doing gala of compositemontserratimagination and of grace, as in which did of its ancestors.  Neither the works abstraccionistas of their last period in Holy Sunday lack precedents in their from barcelona phase. Gausachs not itself supeditó never to dogmatism of school, and much less to self-imposed limitations, what does not do impossible a differentiation of periods in its work, but whenever this be understood inside a notable fluency, being maintained continuously and through the changes a notable unit of the style that does not do more than translating, without proposing it to him, the personality of the creator, and "the emotion", that contraryly It sought by Bracque, and in harmony with Juan Gray, to should "to correct to the rule".

Also during the thirties participated Gausachs in Spain in importantes collective expositions, as that of Catalonian painters organized by the newspaper "The Herald of Madrid", or the exposition-contest that carried out the Museum of Decorative Arts of Montjuich, dedicated to views of Montserrat of Catalonian painters, where a fabric that harmonized blue and luminous roses showed once more its indisputable talent of colorist.

The Civil War and the concentration camps

But again the destiny twists the course of the life of Josep Gausachs. Their they known republican loyalty and their liberal mood and progressive they could not be arranged with the state arisen of the civil War of 1936-1939. Al serious danger that ran their life themselves most greatest the police repression that even complicated the conservation of part of their work.

After being in fields of French concentration, especially in Narbonne, its friends manage to find it, and finally could flee in the ship "Cuba", when already World War Two had been initiated, bound for America, and in company of its son Francisco, who would also be a painter and professor of painting.

A series of circumstances, among the ones that the need is emphasized of "to clean" the international image of one of the picturesque and most bloodthirsty despots of Spanish America, Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, that had just ordered the killing of some thirty thousand Haitians, determined that this to open the doors of the Dominican Republic to them exiled Spaniards, in a boasting of apparently incomprehensible humanitarianism since the point of view of the democratic mentality Of them they exiled, in franco contrast with the ideas and the actions of the dictator.

That migration in which intended to give priority to the farmers, with the ones that was sought to populate the bordering zone of Holy Sunday with Haiti, carried to the small republic antillana a considerable number of intellectuals and artists. The more, they went in a not greater time limit of five years, not without leaving before a lasting track in the cultural life of the nation. Gausachs, that according to Vicente Llorens was, among the artists, "the best-known one and of greater age", remained in the island, save a temporary stay in Venezuela, in 1945, to its death happened July 26, 1959.

Exile and another sea

January eleven, therefore, of 1940, Gausachs was found in Holy Sunday. Its first participation documented in an exposition is in that of private character and celebrated in the residence of the naval aggregate of the legation of the Embassy of the United States in the Dominican Republic, July 31, 1942 , and that was dedicated to contemporary Spanish painting. Granell contributed a landscape al Silver Port oil, al north of the island, and two drawings, that added to six works of Eugenio Fernández Granell, and seven of the muralist José Watches Zanetti, also exiled in Holy Sunday..

This same year participated in the First Biennial Exposition of Plastic Arts that was celebrated in the country, and al following year in an of Self-portraits, kind that cultivated with certain frequency and extraordinary results, and with the one that the National Gallery of Fine Arts was inaugurated, that so much signified for the Dominican art of the forties.

gausachs ledesmaIn 1944 it participated in an exposition that organized the Commission of Spanish Refugees for the Commemoration of the Centennial of the Dominican Republic, and that presided the eminent criminal lawyer Constancio Bernaldo of Quirós, besides the Biennial Second of Plastic Arts, where gained the Third Prize, that was the corresponding one to the category of landscape, by its oil "Haina".

That same year was named professor of the National School of Fine Arts, that had been inaugurated in August of 1942 with a faculty constituted in its greater part by European teachers exiled, so much Spanish republican like Central European Jews. Slightly more than a year later, and al to return of a temporary stay in Venezuela, Gausachs was named deputy director of the School, and subsequently the direction he was offered him, that did not accept.

Also in 1944, of January 30 al 15 of February, he carried out his first individual exposition in Holy Sunday, which reseña the Dominican so much press as the newspapers of him exiled Spaniards, calling attention to the great affluence of public. This sample, fundamentally of landscapes, the discovery he shows us of "another sea", the Caribbean, by this man of the Mediterranean, previously fascinated by the coastal landscapes and the sun of the Balearic islands.

His Visit to Caracas Venezuela

In 1945 resided for some time in Venezuela, where exposed in the Museum of The Caobos and was celebrated extensively by the criticism as the representative of the impresionismo Spanish. In 1948 it participated with a work out of contest, that nevertheless was rewarded, in it I SAW National Biennial of Arts Plastics of the Dominican Republic. He declined public and kindly the honor, alleging that since a time ago had the custom of participating in the Biennials only 'out of contest".

In 1953 it did Gausachs an exposition in the Institute Cultural American Dominican where presented, among others things, his first studies on the black art, possibly the first also, that carried out an artist in the Dominican Republic. In 1954 he presented a retrospective, already. in the French Alliance. In 1953 he had participated in said central in two collective organized by the National Circle of Artists, that in 1954 member of the jury of the contest of art named it that celebrated in the Institute Cultural American Dominican.

In October also of 1954 participated in an exposition of religious art that the group catholic Apse organized in the parlors of the Dominican literary Society. It is of the major interest the ingenuous and expressive religious art of Gausachs. in which Manuel Three has detected typologies iconográficas deep-rooted in the Romanesque one, like the Virgin that maintains in arms to a Christ with childlike size, but proportions and face of adult.

In 1955 Gausachs he was included in an important international exposition organized by the literary Society of Caracas, where he represented to the Dominican Republic along with his more next disciple. Gilberto Hernández Ortega, and Jaime Colson, a Dominican that according to Lourdes Cirlot had some influence on the group Dau al Set in his beginnings, and was great friend of Tharrats. Exposition that included works of Léger, Hartung, Soulages. Vasarely, Magritte, Petorutti. Diego Rivera. Candid Portinari. Lam. Rouault, Picasso. Bores. Pelayo, Siquei-ros, Guayasamín.

 In the work of Gausachs in Holy Sunday, and according to Naescher, its main collector, a Swiss that possesses near a hundred drawings and paintings of the artist, and that obtained of André Breton two drawings of Picasso in exchange for one of Gausachs, is possible to indicate four "phases" in the production of Gausachs. These are a first one dedicated al landscape, a second referred to the figures of black and mulatas, the third, that radicalizes the tendency to the synthesis that characterizes not only its Dominican period, but the work of all its life, and, finally, the upset toward the abstraction of the end of its life. Although in the case of Gausachs, we think that there is not an abstraction but several: that of very schematic works that can be included in which has been given in calling "paisajismo abstract", that of works as "Swamp Party", of 1955, or "Sputrik", of 1957, where is visible the track, in which belongs to the estructuración spatial, of the Cubism or the constructivism, or, in short, the abstractions like an of Collection of Jorge Gausachs where a galloping graphics, of rhythm tormented and overwhelming as that of a Pollock or a Michaux, they link it with the automatism or the abstract expressionism.

His Last Years

But among its more characteristic works they are, clear is, the landscapes. Exactly Gausachs was in Holy landscapes painting professor Sunday, and its expert eye distinguished with clarity the shades that differentiated the rustic landscapes of the southwest from the of the South region of the island, rich in ocres, or the most tender tones of the North region and head Office of the Cibao. It created an image of the tropic, like they knew to see the critical Manuel Valdeperes and Rafael Díaz Niese, that broke the topic of the estridencias chromatic, to be inclined toward a lyrical vision of the light. A peculiar optic phenomenon that has been confused often with fogs, typical of the tropical tomorrows, is that of a silver brightness that comes dissolve, by its same intensity, the forms and the colors.

The eye of the foreigner, as knew to note Valdeperes, is more apt than that of the-native to detect that reality (and more the eye of a man of the Mediterranean), of a "light that hidden, and a darkness that reveals", as sage aims María Commotion-Not, in an unforgettable trial on Wilfredo Lam, as own of the Caribbean. Among the painters of the area, we think that only the Venezuelan Reverán has been capable of carrying out and to radicalize that perception of the Caribbean light..

Also the figures of black and mulatas of Gausachs, that someone has considered descending islanders of the gypsies of Nonell, they deserve to be mentioned as definition, beyond the individual portrait, of an authentic native type in which the crookedness of the line collects all a repertoire of variant psychological, the sadness, the laxity, the freedom, the challenge, the erotic seduction or the -mystery of the instinctive thing. It inhabits in them a he, an effervescence of life, that the distance determined of the a lot more hieratic than conceived another exiled Spaniard, Angel Botello, very influenced by Gauguin.

Not less important it is an iconología of vegetations and figures, of manglar, fish and fantastic animals that define all a fantastic and magic vision of the Caribbean that revives, in key tenebrista, in Gilberto Hernández Ortega and possibly in Lam. You figure and form flat and synthetic, trimmed by thick dark lines, they carry us, as the Romanesque iconography That the painter knew so well, beyond the empirical space that denotes the Renaissance perspective to another absolutely numinoso where the art, like preconiza Klee, does visible the invisible thing.

 

Nevertheless all the appreciations and classifications should be handled with care, offering them sufficient fluency, in the case of the work of Gausachs. Other notable characteristics of their production are, on the one hand, the abundance of works of small format, and carried out with costly little materials, like pencils of childlike color, waxes, charcoal and sanguinas, besides gouaches, watercolors, watered down, ink and pastel, and by another its grandísima influence on the generations of Dominican painters that were its disciples: a Dominican critic has said that the history of the art of the country is able Before and after Gausachs. We corroborate without any doubt that affirmation, adding that the Catalonian painter is not the unique one, but yes the major responsible one for that today, if he can be spoken of a "national school", in the Dominican painting, that is the expressionism, no matter how more the expressionism of Gausachs always was moderated by an elegance that did not admit neither by I appear the bombastic thing or him efectista.

He remains today, above all, his ethical copy felt of the work of the artist, his love al I work, his consequent independence, without poses neither boastings, without concessions, just as has underlined repeatedly his main collector, Naeseher, to commercial seductions. Gausachs never he painted for assignment, neither he wanted to sell their works, not even very well full, to people that him did not please.

Since their death they have been dedicated him several retrospectives: in Holy Sunday, in the House of Spain in 1963, two in the Gallery of Modern Art in the seventies and an in the Cafarelli, and in 1983 in the City of the Artists of High of Chavón. Another in 1964 in the Gallery Syra of Barcelona, that already in 1950 had dedicated him, in life of the artist, a retrospective that can be considered as the start of the rediscovery of Gausachs in Spain. We expect that these lines contribute al same, so much like the transfer of a series from among 80 and 240 drawings that the collector Partagés yielded al Museum of Modern Art of Barcelona. To a street of Holy Sunday, besides, him was given, like homage, the name of Josep Gausachs.

A metaphysics of the light, like factor that determines the step of the forms and the beings by the threshold of the real thing, went developing gradually as background of the work of Gausachs. As many artists that passed through the surrealism, experienced, above all in its fantasies around the forms of the manglares antillanos, the step of the onirismo to the fantastic thing. "When the reality becomes fiction -wrote al margin of one of its drawings-, the obsession is confused with the same reality."

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