The Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM) exhibition, open Mar 15 – May 01, 2011, gathers 92 works between sculptures and paintings that represent the different stages of his creative production from the forties to his last works in the nineties.
It is a complete perspective of a legacy that has been shown in museums and public spaces in France, Spain, Germany, Austria and Venezuela. His sculptures on a medium and large scale are characterized by perfectly polished surfaces in which the light slides and goes through the corporeal space. Using materials such as marble, alabaster, granite, wood and bronze, the Spanish sculptor directed his oeuvre towards the creation of a language of abstraction, but keeping the human figure as the cornerstone of his creation. On the occasion of the exhibition, the IVAM has published a catalogue that contains all the works displayed and texts on Baltasar Lobo’s oeuvre by Tomàs Llorens, Eduardo Planchart Licea, Consuelo Císcar and Rafael Sierra.
Baltasar Lobo (Zamora, 1910 – Paris, 1993) is known for his works depicting woman and maternity from abstract shapes and figures full of sensuality. After starting to work as an sculptor in Valladolid making religious images, he got in 1927 a scholarship for the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, in Madrid, to which he went for some months. Then, he kept going to evening classes (drawing and direct carving) in he Círculo de Bellas Artes. He discovered the Iberian art in the Museo Arqueológico, from which he took its simplified and ancestral shapes to apply them to his sculptural language and which took him to the formal synthesis. During these years, he also studied the Mediterranean sculptural tradition as it can be seen in the presence of centaurs and bulls, that came from the Minoan civilization.
With the outbreak of the Spanish civil war, he was an active member of the republican side, and that was the reason why he had to go on the exile. In France, he frequented the Spanish exiled circles, he knew Picasso and took part in the artistic life of the Paris of that period. He worked as an assistant in Henri Laurens’ studio, and this experience proved to be a decisive influence in his artistic development. He was also able to follow the career of other sculptors and this can be seen in his works of the forties, such as his versions of maternity where Lipchistz echoes can be distinguished. Some of these works, especially the more monumental one that was planned for La Ciotat in 1947, are displayed in the exhibition. Even if they are less obvious, Brancusi’s traces can also be seen in works such as Selene, 1957, or El pájaro (The bird), 1957, which can also be found in the exhibition.
The internal processes of his creation can be seen in the drawings and gouaches, most of them sketches of future sculptures. Their predominant subject matter is the woman and his sculptural talent becomes evident. In his experiments with charcoal, Indian ink or paintbrush, and with the spontaneity allowed by the gouache, he enhances the volume of the bodies, announced by the sculptures. It is possible to notice the direct relationship between some drawings and sculptures, such as the drawing La marchande de poisson (Fishmonger), the gouache on cardboard Femme et enfant (Woman and child) and the sculpture with the same name of 1958, where the line becomes three-dimensional by coming to fruition in marble and bronze.
The special relationship of the artist with Venezuela started in the mid fifties with his first exhibition of drawings in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas in 1955, where he exhibited again in 1958. The Venezuelan audience loved his works, and before long he was entrusted with an important pair of sculptures for public spaces: Maternidad (Maternity), 1953, located next to the another sculpture of his master Henry Laurens, and another exquisite Maternity for the collection of the Museo de Bellas Artes. His oeuvre was successfully exhibited at the end of the sixties in the Fundación Mendoza de Caracas. En 1989, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber organized an anthological exhibition as a result of which some works of the artist were purchased, some of which are regularly exhibited in his Jardín de Esculturas.
Baltasar Lobo’s oeuvre has received much recognition in Spain from the sixties, when his first exhibition took place in Madrid in the Museo de Arte Moderno, to December 1998, when the Museo Baltasar Lobo opened in Zamora, with drawings, photographs, tools and more than fifty works that the sculptor had produced along his career. In 1984 he was awarded the Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas, and in 1985 the Premio Castilla y León de las Artes.
In July 2009, the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Baltasar Lobo was opened in Zamora, between the Medieval castle and the Cathedral. Both in the castle and its garden (reopened the same year), 69 works donated by the artist and his family are displayed. Baltasar Lobo’s oeuvre has been studied in academies and by critics worldwide as a model of formative influence and own voice.
Image: Baltasar Lobo, La mere et l’enfant, 1957