Jucar VIII encapsulates Zobel’s renewed understanding of color, as well as his existing strengths in expressive abstract form. Although growing up in the Philippines, Zobel settled in Cuenca, Spain for in his later years. It was in Cuenca that Zobel was inspired by River Júcar to create a series of non-traditional landscape paintings that recorded his mental and emotional experiences of the river’s motion and colors. The present painting’s subtle nuances in color deftly capture the elusive colors of the river water. The flow of the heavier, tranquil moss green into the lighter, dynamic pink summons impressions of a river: incredibly still, yet slowly moving. These are Zobel’s “natural observed colors”2: colors that were not created purposely to evoke an emotion, but rather authentic, personal colors that Zobel experienced himself.
The other integral component to this painting is the arrangement of delicate horizontal and vertical lines — what Zobel refers to as his “abstract structure”. The lines, created with a hypodermic syringe, create an almost grid-like backbone that gives the painting a sense of motion. The painting’s full force comes from the combination of color and line, a combination that, as Zobel describes, “creates a tension”.3 The interaction of the ethereal pools of color with the horizontal lines suggests river water flowing in a bounded linear path. On the other hand, the vertical lines break the flow at the painting’s center, possibly hinting at water’s spontaneous overflow. Perhaps Zobel was exploring the “tension” between freedom and constraint.
Jucar VIII could be best described with having, in Zobel’s own words, a “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t effect”4 . The painting’s hazy colors and disappearing lines fuse to become one fleeting mental image, a documented visceral reaction, in which subtleties appear and disappear. Zobel’s experience and perception of River Júcar is distilled into the core emotional and visual qualities. Painted at a time when Zobel was painting with most maturity, confidence, and intention, Jucar VIII is a testament to Zobel’s unique artistic vision.
1 Fernando Zobel in interview with Raymundo Albano and Rolando Perez., February 15 1967
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