I went to Fundación Juan March to see the exhibition El principio Asia, devoted to influences of Eastern Art on the contemporary Spanish art, but more particularly to closely watch El río IV (River IV), a big format painting by Fernando Zobel (1924-1984). Throughout my life I have felt a constant admiration for a number of painters and Zobel is among these few ones. I have read so many times his short Diario de un cuadro (painting diary). His labour as patron and collector has deserved recognition everywhere, with his support for the building of the astonishing Museum in the Casas Colgadas de Cuenca (Cuenca – Spain), but at the same time, I somehow understand that his paintworks have been underestimated by aristocratic and conceptual circles. In an environment that has been granting great importance to gestural, ideas and “anxious art”, Zobel’s transparency, sensitiveness, meditation and technical cleanliness are not to be understood.
I have never felt comfortable if looking at his paintings shown in a collective exhibition; among others his paintings always seem to be out of place. Zobel is to be admired alone. Some have also alleged against this artist that he is a mere simple and decorative painter as his paintwork is so easy to look at and to understand. The paintwork is elegant and gives the viewer the feeling of something one can easily recognise. In fact, his series of paintings such as Orillas (shores) or the one devoted to River Jucar never reach the pure abstraction. Maybe his jardín seco (dry garden) is along with Guernica (Picasso), one of the copies of a work of art which has become a bestseller in Spain.