17 Apr Zulema Bagur, la pintura sentida
A retrospective exhibition is an excellent opportunity to stop and review work carried out over a long period of time. For Zulema, this exhibition is, apart from being the only practical need, a show of appreciation to everyone interested in her approach to painting and Menorca, as the island is her constant inspiration, the driving force behind her brushstrokes.This first retrospective exhibition shows twenty five years of artistic creation built from a unique personality, from a deep feeling of communion with landscape and an enduring investigation of pictorial resources.The exhibition aims to be a place for dialogue between the work and the public, leading the viewer to a particular way of perceiving the Menorcan landscape. Zulema pays homage to Menorca, to a heartfelt Menorca, to a dreamed Menorca where every leaf, every breath of air and every rock is included.Landscape become a space of freedom, a space in which the magic of the secret life of rocks, leaves and trees reminds us of our terrestrial surroundings. As we are also a product of the geographical space, of a land, of the air, of the sea that gives us life. Her appreciation of the surroundings is also reflected in her active involvement in the cultural life of the island through her collaborations with entities such as Joventuts Musicals, Diario Menorca, the Townhall of Maó, The Red Cross, Teatro Principal, and in the defence and in the dignifying of the profession.
Zulema showed interest in art from an early age, when at the age of sixteen she studied photography. Discovering photography meant sealing an engagement with art that will accompany her forever. All her artistic searching and the roots of her language are hidden behind the capture of an inherent interest in photography. Nevertheless, Zulema is not interested in the testimony of reality, which is intrinsic to photography. She wants to create a different reality through painting by representing the transitory aspects of landscapes, by capturing the fleeting appearance of the carved stone, of the sea, and by painting it all from the heart, from the feelings. According to Pissarro, it’s about “ not proceeding following rules and principles, but painting what can be observed and can be felt”. Zulema’s paintings come from the heart. They are born from an impulse that leads her to work the colours as a symphony. “Colour is music,” Robert Delaunay said. Zulema Bagur understands the Menorcan landscape with a very special personality.
Starting with sketches, photographs and written thoughts “en plein air”, afterwards she remakes in her study all the experienced impressions and reinterprets the landscape with a language built through characteristics brushstrokes and colours. Both the painter and her language become key elements to arouse an emotional reaction in the viewer. The long and unidirectional brushstroke of “ Illa connexió III. Aèria costa sud Menorca” contrasts to the one of “Arquitectures vora el port. Ciutadella”, which is multidirectional and short. In the first case, the effect is more atmospheric; the sense of landscape, the pleasant encounter between sea and land. In the second case, there is a more vigorous, almost violent, effect, caused by the red colour and the warm colour scheme that prevails.
Zulema’s brushstroke often acts as a pictorial rhythmic and pseudo pointillist calligraphy that gives to the Menorcan landscape a new meaning. Her skill lies in her ability to recreate landscape for the viewer, who is used to the entire island from his own memory and affections. This free, spontaneous and descriptive brushwork does not match to the form, but it is only the expression of the essence and of the appearance of the subject. Details are not important for the painter (“Aromes en Groc”).
The expression of the brushstroke is completed by an exuberant use of colour, this colour is the light of her landscapes and configures the emotional atmosphere that the painter instills. Zulema Bagur frequently uses pure colours with little mixing, sometimes only a bit of burnt sienna to get a nuance that makes the ultramarine blue closer to the ground colour. We can find turquoise, cobalt light blue, emerald green, cinnabar, payne grey, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, Garanza carmine, lacquer geranium, light cadmium yellow and titanium white, but no black. The black colour, the maximum darkness is not in her paintings, shadows are built with other colours. Light, gesture and colour then become the expression of the more attractive places of the island for Zulema: quarries, roads, ports, nature, architectures and aerial perspectives. In each of these topics, the author expresses her arts and her identification with the landscape in a very personal way. Being large, these formats best express this emotion. In the aerial perspectives, the painter has a special ability to capture the air and create an atmosphere that makes us feel part of the landscape from a distance. When she paints nature, the stroke changes. It becomes more subtle and essential, as in the paintings of trees and leaves, in which she approaches the oriental painters and, in particular, the Japanese Edo period, which also had so much influence in the Impressionist Movement.
The brushstrokes of Zulema that we have referred to previously, is the main character of the ports and paths series. In them, the seemingly unconnected strokes are perceived as a unitary whole, as Impressionists were first to perceive and as the Gestalt’s psychology showed later. In her evolution, the artist has been giving more prominence to this kind of stroke, providing it with more intensivity and expression. The quarries series is specially interesting because the painter tries out collage, she abandons the normal and looks for a certain radicalism. Her first prize, Gold Medal, of the Salon the Primavera at the Ateneo de Maó (2008) and her first prize Sant AntoniSa Nostra (1996) are a recognition of this line of investigation and a sign of her extraordinary creative ability.
Her enduring interest for artistic expression and a firm determination and perseverance at work have also led her to try other techniques such as the creation of a stained glass window (Reynolds Foundation project), watercolours (“Naked” series) and installations (“Germinació” and “Diàleg”) In the watercolour series she emphasizes the subtlety of the overlapping gouaches and the adaptation to the message that wants to be transmitted. This desire to transmit and communicate led Zulema to develop a successful literary activity that has been recognized with awards and which she even reflects in her website, looking for a symbiosis between painting and writing, always exploring a “written landscape, painted landscape”.
This journey through a work of more than two decades verifies that Zulema’s painting is honest, sincere, emotional and deeply rooted in the island, born from a profound humanistic feeling deservedly affording her a prominent place at the Menorcan and Balearic visual arts.
Carles Jiménez Jorquera