Following Christie's milestone presentation of the Gerardo Rueda Collection of artworks by Fernando Zóbel within the Christie's Hong Kong May 2013 auction - the first ever private collection of significant works by Fernando Zóbel - we are pleased to present another group of Zóbel works formerly owned by influential artist Gerardo Rueda; equally elegant, inspiring and reflective of the deep friendship between both modern masters.
Fernando Zóbel is one of the most progressive abstractionists to emerge from Asia, eventually leaving his mark on the modern art fraternity in Spain, particularly Madrid and Cuenca. Born in Manila, Zóbel was educated at Harvard and later the Rhode Island School of Design where he first encountered the major Western abstract artists, most significantly Mark Rothko, whose pared down reductionist works were to influence Zóbel throughout his life. Zóbel initially alternated between Manila and Madrid, where he became a member of the Spanish post-war scene, alongside colleagues like Luis Feito and Gerardo Rueda. Eventually he established his studio in Cuenca, Spain, where he became an active participant in the artistic climate of the city and also a mentor to the rising generation of art students, founding the Museo de Arte Abstracto Espanol which he conceptualized together with Gerardo Rueda.
Sin Tituolo (Lot 449) is a classic example from the period immediately following Zóbel's Serie Negra of the early 1960s, where the artist still prefaced strong, calligraphic black lines and sweeps of dynamic momentum, but had begun to move away from pure monochrome to introduce warm cobalt and gold hues into the background of his compositions.
By the 1970s Zóbel continued to work in colour but rarely in bright hues; preferring instead to focus on earth and gold toned shades which could capture the effects of light, reflection, nature and movement. Brighton II (Lot 451) exemplifies this instinct, portraying a shadowy formation evocative of a land mass across a luminous, light-drenched backdrop. A horizontal lavender strip bisects the visual plane, instilling a focal point and sense of geometric formalism within the work.
As he progressed into the 1980s, Zóbel's works became increasingly pared down and prefaced draughtsmanship of bare lines, or diagrammatic studies of Old Masters as their central focus; an investigation into the architectural foundations of a painting, rather than its superficial visuals. Iris II (Lot 450), another Rueda picture, and a second work from a separate collection, Preludio (Lot 448) illustrate this late period within Zóbel's career, which has traditionally been overshadowed by the resounding virtuosity of his earlier Saetas and Serie Negra canons, but nonetheless conveys immense poise, maturity, and above all, restraint - as though, upon reaching the end of his illustrious career, Zóbel had moved away from sound and fury, to memorialize the enduring beauty and gravitas found within quiet spaces; a prelude, a pause.