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FERNANDO ZOBEL (The Philippines 1924-1984)
FERNANDO ZOBEL (The Philippines 1924-1984)

La Piedra IV

FERNANDO ZOBEL (The Philippines 1924-1984)
La Piedra IV
signed 'Zobel' (lower left)
oil on canvas
48 x 56 in. (121.5 x 142 cm.)
Painted in 1973
Harvard, Fogg Museum of Art, Creative Transformations: Drawings and Paintings by Fernando Zóbel, May 1987 (exh. cat., p. 10)
Sale Room Notice
Please note that this work is signed again and titled on the reverse.

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Lot Essay

What makes Fernando Zobel's work the reflection of the epitome of the Filipino environment is the fact that he addresses what is deemed to be the most striking quality of the archipelago; the quality of its light. "Normally we have to deal with a white colourless glare that bounces off every surface and refuses to cast a shadow." (Rodolfo Paras-Perez, Fernando Zobel, Manila, 1990, p. 90) Zobel perpetuates his belief in Abstract Expressionism through his work and exhibits a strong influence from Mark Rothko's deceptively non-figurative colour washes. What enthralled Zobel was the gesture, the brushstroke, the method behind pigment application; he captured the essence of things rather than their mere physical appearances. Though his work breathes a sense of vibrant spontaneity, Zobel's work was the product of countless sketches and re-workings that serve as evidence of his calculated approach to his depictions.

"Like Michelangelo who looked at sculpture as a matter of freeing the figure imprisoned in marble, Zobel regarded painting as a sort of distillation - of removing distractions - painting landscape by removing everything that distracted its sense of form, from roads, houses to even colour. He wanted to pare down his to its most abstract, underlying structure. Zobel draws the viewer into an unobstructed and uncomplicated perspective of what is the abstract core of an object and scene, minus the trappings that seem to blind the viewer from the true light. Zobel measured all the dimensions with a scientific precision yet his freedom was never compromised for he never 'was the slave to any system of formula.' " (ibid, p. 90)

La Piedra IV is closely related to Zobel's master-series of works based on the Júcar River in Cuenca, Spain. It is an abstract study of the water-drenched boulders seen through the passage of the moving river and the interplay of light above. Within this work, Zobel energises the scene with the source of light that he portrays emitting out from a known source. The rigid confines of the source are softened and made to seem less forbidding by the sense of calmness that the warmth seems to convey. It is not aggression that one is confronted by, but the viewer is extended an invitation to exploration instead.


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