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SKETCHBOOKS .'

FERNANDO ZOBEL


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For

Jim and Reed


CONTENTS THE

DRAWINGS OF ZOBEL:

AN ApPRECIAUON

by Arturo Rogerio Luz - INTRODUCTION

A

by E. ' Aguilar Cruz

NOTE ON THE SKETCHBOOKS

PLATES NOTES ON THE PLATES


THE DRAWINGS OF ZOBEL AN APPRECIATION

by

ARTURO ROGERJO

Luz

"[ was born," Fernando Zobel said at one time, ÂŤwith a complicated mind." To which we must add: an intense cttriosity~ extensive backgrou.nd and energy. While this does not ne.cessarily explain his drawings, it hints where one might look to u.nderstand his work. F 0'1' if anything characterizes Zobel it is his endless variation, his wealth of forms and ideas. If it is therefore difficult to look at his painting of a smiling bird 01' a flying nwchine or a woman 1vith an oversized hat and say in what way they are similar and original, it is more difficult to wade ,thmugh his d1'flwings and find what makes them individual. For Zobel has made thousands of draWings. He has made drawings as drawings, drawings as steps to painting, sketches, doodles and even scribbles. He has drawn in pencil, ink and paint, with line and tone and color. He has even made draWings that look like paintings and paintings which seem little more than draWings.


In' a one-man show some time ago Zobel exhibited what appeared to be paintings but were listed as paintings and drawings. For painting and drawing are at once alike and different. A drawing can be large, colored and finished. A painting may be small, colorless and simple. But while this similarity is at times so close as to seem confusing, the difference is clear to Zobel who draws the line simply: draWings are steps to painting; painting is the result of one or more drawing$. If drawing leads to painti'l1g, what leads to draWing? Better yet: What does Zobel draw and how does he draw it? His source seems endless. Zobel lias taken from his surroundings, copled from nature, worked from memory and drawn from his mind. He has invented, manufactured and improvised. There are machines and fantastic creatures, gadgets and geometrical patterns, people and buildings and vegetation, Biblical themes and historical subjects. For Zobel works with things seen or studied or felt, remembered and imagined. And if draWing is the basis for ' his painting, line is his approach to draWing. Line drawn


with pencil or brush or pen. Sharp and fine, thick and blurred, straight or curved, but essentially line. Line that is calligraphic, often simple and limited as outline, sometimes repeated and massed as tone, other times wandering or f'ight or free. But always line a.nd always different. With such widely varying subjects and interpretations of form it should not be surprising to find that Zobel is at times representational, other times abstract, and occasionally non-objective. Curiously, this is not becaus~ of any conscious attempt at "style," for Zobel seems less preoccupied with technique than with the _ enjoyment of drawing, and involved in subject more than style. If we are therefore to find the individuality of Zobel we should look for qualities mther than labels. For whether he paints an abstract head, a conventional lemon or a non-objecUve shape, there are in his work, independent of subject or form, these qualities which nwke them identifiable: directness, 7tu11101', imagination. 'Vhile Zobel may a.ppear complex in his preoccupations he is simple in his expression. An idea is expressed with limited elements, an ob-


feet drawn in the simplest terms. This simplicity, partly intititive and sometimes studied, explains the spontaneity that .distinguishes his drawings. Drawings that are free and simple and effortless. But what must undoubtedly strike anyone looking at the work of Zobel are the liveliness of imagination and richness of forms and shapes and Unesand ideas. And the liveliness and richness of his hU1n01¡. F or one cannot look at Zobel's ¡draWing without sensing his enjoyment and love of draWing. Which leads me to guess that his reason for draWing, or at least one of them, is the fun of drawing for his own amusement. And at the moment I cannot think of a better reason.


INTRODUCTION

by E.

AGUILAR CRUZ

The art of drawing is so nearly forgotten that a book of this sort is bound to cause surprise. It is a fact, however, that our painters draw; if so little is known about their output it is because flO one has until now thought of getting some of it between book covers. Now, sketches and drawings are not only the skeleton key to an artist's paintings but are in themselves a work of art, minor but not uniinportant. The low estee"!, in which drawing is generally held is due to a misunderstanding of its na,ture rather than to any intrinsic inferiority of draWings as compared to paintings. F or some fifty years, our art students have been taught to respect a fine rendering" at the expense of line and gesture. Neither real academic nor non-academic draWing was taught in the formal schools. What the §tudents did, from one year to the next in the life class, was to get down a photographic likeness of the model, with-since the work was u.Yually done at night or under a strong light-nwre emphasis on chiaro.scuro than on form or line. '_ i


In the grade schools, where one would think drawing might have been taught for its own sake, the same timid approach has been maintained. Literalness and lifelikeness" are identified with good drawing, lack of either being considered the result of incompetence. Even the teachers' manual, although .none too good, would have improved instruction significantly if it had been followed. Instead children were made to draw from other drawings, usually illttstrations in a book or even calendar chromos. Generations of students have grown up without the most rudimentary understanding of drawing except what is to be seen on movie posters. Lately some effort has been made in a few schools to teach creative ¡ drawing, and the results have been encouraging. But it will take years to change the popular conception so that drawings may be exhibited in galleries as successfully as paintings are. This collection of sketches and drawings, from the hundreds in the sketchbooks of Fernando Zobel, is, I believe, important for all that it pu.rports to be nothing but a divertissement in between the painter's 1nore serious work, which happens at the moment to be getting out twenty


or thirty large pictures for' a one-man exhibition. This is quite apart from the fact that it is the first book of drawings published in this country, a ,distinction rather meaningless in itself. I hope however, ,that it will help to remove misconceptions of what constitutes drawing.

It happens that Zobel considers his drawings and sketches steps to painting, and indeed his 'm ethod involves a considerable amount of drawing, both in ink or crayon and oils, so that what appears to be the finished picture is often merely one stage towards that ultimate perfection that every ser.ious artist strives after. ' The repetition of S01ne subjects in this book, such as th,e slightly decadent lady in a series of incredible chapeaux (Nos. 10, 11, 12) and the Carroza (Nos . 46, 47, 48,' 49), is suggestive of Zobel's method; each set has ended up in more than one major canvas. ' To suggest, though, that these sketches are useful only as they shed light on Zobers un'ger works is to miss the point. They are also ends in themselves, which can be looked at for their own sake as one looks at a piece of pottery or, say, an artifact, or for that matter, a pa'inting. Of one thing' we nwy be sure: they are not doodles (though all art; in so far as it flows


from the .' ~bcoriscious, contains an element of doodling). 'Rather, they are responses to stimuli which have impinged on the artist's consdousness at one time or another, during sojourns abroad (which will explain the exotic flavor of many of the . sketches), trips to the provinces, or waiting in a dentist's parlor. Whereas some painters do not sketch unless they have to, because they have a canvas in mind, Zobel paints because he draws, because he cannot stop until he has carried over a promising sketch into something larger, fuller or more complicated. If at times¡ the drawings seem obscure that is because a drawi!lg is under no obligation to be simpler than a painting. If on the ~oth~r hand tl1,ey seem too casual to be of any con,sequence, it might be beca1,lse one '/:tas become accustomed to commercialized, predigested, over-stated art. The possibly puzzled audience, I fear, will just have to take my word for it that these draWings are, to put it colloquially, aU right; that the masters drew in this fashion, and that so would anyone with a flair for draWing if he saw nature at firsthand rather than reflected from a magazine cover.


A NOTE ON THE SKETCHBOOKS

These sketchbooks were started in December 1950. At the present moment they add up to ten volumes which include some 1,500 sketches. The books are relatively small. The original idea teas to carry them in my coat pocket, an idea that, when put into practice, gave a curiously lop-sided and exhausted appearance to all my coats. In the Philippines coats are seldom worn so I've been carrying my current sketchbook a-round in a variety of inconvenient ways. _But the fact remains that I have not travelled very far without a sketchbook. These books have accompanied me to the U.S., Spoin, Japan, and various corners of the Philippines. In a sense these sketchbooks are a kin~ of diary. Primarily they contain quick impress-ions of things observed, but in many cases there are studies, more or less elaborate, for future paintings. There are also such things as doodles, clippings from newspapers and magazines, telephone numbers, technical formulas, addresses and a variety of quotations and remarks. In fact, almost anything is likely to turn up in these books.


·The vast majority of the sketches are executed wit.h jountainpen and black ink, but there a·re afew waterclJiors. At times I've done sketches on bits of scrap paper, paper napkins, etc. which have been pasted into the books. The difficult job of selecting eighty drawings· out of approximately fifteen hundred was aided conSiderably by the advice of Telly Albert Zulueta and R. Zulueta da Costa, Lee Aguinaldo, Carl Steele and Alfonso Zobel b'. In arranging the drawings for reproduction, we decided not to stick to a 1'elatively meaning- ·less chronological order; ·instead we arranged them very roughly by subject matter. For those who are interested _in such things, I have prOVided a set of notes on the sketches, giving brief explanations of the,ir subject matter, and thei1' dates. Btit I suppose in most cases the sketches are clear enough as they stand. It might be well to mention that these sketches

were made without thought ·of publication.. This may explain the obvious frivolity and roughness of same of them. In general, the simplest and roughest ones are the most recent. This is because, with the passing of time, I use


these sketchbooks more and more to record only the briefest of impressions, preferring to work ou.t real drawings on a mu.ch larger scale. F. Z. Manila, March 1954


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NOTES ON THE PLATES The original pages of the sketchbooks measure an average of 8-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches. In these notes sketches are dated as accurately as possible. Dates given in parenthesis are not 011 the or'iginal sketch, and are the result of confecture. Place where the drawing was made is given when the information seems to be useful. (F.Z.) PLATE 1

Manila (1953)

PLATE

2

~lanila

PLATE

3

After a ' photograph in Life magazine. Inscription: "piccolo". (1954)

PLATE

4

Inscription: "Brandeis - the inevitable is only that which we do not choose to resist." Sketch done during a lecture in Sanders Theate1', Harvard. That's how the quotation got in. ( 1951 )

PLATE

5

Professor Richard Goodwin, H arvard University. An amateur painter, he retaliated with a sketch of ' me on the oppos#e page of the' sketchbook. ( 1951 )


PLATE

6

Study Club dinner, Harvard Law School. I can still recall thl? highly pitched boredom of that evening. (1951)

PLATE

7

Inscription: "the measure .of love is what one is willing to give up for it." I don't remember where the quotation came from, but I do remember the desperate-looking waiter depicted, ¡who Used to work in a Cambridge restaurant. One of hi8 colleagues told me he was in love, which, I suppose, accounted for his expression. ( 1951 )

8, 9

Done on paper napkins in an Italian restaurant, Boston. The espresso machine -was later used in a painting. ( 1953 )

PLATES

10, Studies for, the painting "Bodegon 11, 12 Antillano" (completed 1953). Over 50 ¡ sket~hes and draWings were made for this painting, the earliest dating back to 1950. Plate 10 is dated August 7, 1952. Plate 11 was done the same year, plate 12 in 1951.

PLATES


PLATE PLATES

13

Madrid (1951)

14,

15

Manila (1953)

16, 17, 18, 19, 20

PLATES

All done in Reed Champion Pfeufer's house in .Cambridge, Mass. ( 1951) . The first two show the art~ at work in her studio. Eric, Reed's son, dressed as a knight in a costume he concocted, is shown in plate 20.

PLATE

21

An attempt to work plate 20 into a sketch for a painting. All resemblance was abandoned. The painting never materialized. (1951)"

PLATE

22

Walker Place, Cambridge, Mass. I lived there for a year or so. The driveway always seemed to be full of sunlight, children and strange vehicles. Naturally, the houses were on the verge of exhaustion. (1951)

"PLATE

23

Study for 'a painting, neve¡, completed. ( 1951 )


PLATES

24, Armour in the Metropplitan Museum, New York. (1951)

25 PLATES

26, Madrid (1951)

27 PLATES

28,

My sister was ill in a Madrid h os-

29

"-

pital. The boy with the boat was the hospital's messenger. The two gentlemen . just sat around or paced up and down the waiting room. ( 1951 ) PLATES

31

30,

In Summer, after the regular Madrid bullfight season, charlotadas take over. The charlotada is a comic bullfight, usually perform(}d at night to escape the heat, and dirt cheap. Whole families go and take their dinner with them. The bulls, though young, are quite real; the bullfighters tend to be old and unsuccessful. 't is not easy to be funny and remain unbruised; the bullfighters look harassed. Their costumes are delightfully haphazard. (1951)


PLATE

32

Roof detail, St. Agustin church, Mardin.

PLATE

33

Composite sketch of an old Philippine cemetery.

PLATE

34

Oculist's waiting room, Manila.

PLATE

35

Nightclub (1951)

PLATFS

PLATES

Travel notes during a trip in Northern Luzon, P. I. Most of the te",t deals with architectural details. "Ve were doing a study on. Philippine architecture at the time. Studies for a painting (completed 1953) of a Philippine ice-cream . cart. ( 1952)

42,

43, 44 PLATE

York.

40,

41

PLATES

New

36,

37, 38, 39

PLATES

p¡ianist,

45

Manila (1952) Study for portrait of the painter Arturo R. Luz. Manila (1953).

46,

47, 48,

Studies f01; the painting ÂŤCarroza"


(completed 1953. First prize, AAP National Exhibition October 1953). The model was the image of Nuestra Senora de kt Consolacion in St. Agustin church, Manila. On its Feast Day, t~,e image is placed on a silver chariot and is dressed -in a robe embroidered with gold and silver th read. The · crowns are gold, the Twlo diamonds. In the process of painting the picture the appearance of the image changed {l good deal. The plates are ar-ranged in reverse chronologtcal · order. ( 1952-53 )

49

50, 51, 52, 53

PLATES

Studies for the - painting "Paso" (completed 1954) . During H (Jly Week ill Makati (Rizal Province, P. I:) the barrio children carry these gaint masked wioker figures in processi9n. "$

Manila . . Dated November 18 ( 1952).

PLATE

54

PLATE

55 · Manila


56,

PLATE

·57

The sculptor, John Risley, and his tool cabinet. Manila. Dated, respectively, January 5 and March 9, 1952.

PLATE

58

Cambridge, Mass.

PLATE

59

Study tor a portrait of my nephew Alfo1180 ( completed 1953). The thing above his head is the axle of of a carriage. It just happened to be there. Manila (1953).

(1951)

60,

PLATES

61

Sketches of .my nephews Georgina and Alejandro Padilla. Baguio, P. I. (Jan. 1954) 62,

PLATES

6:3

,

Japan is the country of bicycles. Tokyo (Dec. 1953)

64, 65, 66, 67

PLATES

PLATES

68;

Cambridge, Mass.

. 69 PLATE

Manila (1952-53)

70

(1951)

The field8 outside Manila are full


of discarded vehicles and scrap iron, lat'gely left-overs from the war. _Tall grass grows around - these rusty, fantasticaUy shaped objects. Dated March 31, 1952. PLATE

71

Study for the painting "Tropical Garden" (com.pleted 1953) . The garden in question~ with its pool, lies outside the window of my dining-room in Makati. Dated June 6, 1953.

PLATE

72

Igorot weaving loom. Baguio, P.I. __ Dated January 2, 1954. I

PLATE

73

PLATE

74\

Mani~. Dated July 1, .1953.

PLATE

75

Illustrat~on

PLATES

for Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl." ( 1951)

76,

77

PLATE

Study for the painting "Grader" - (completed 1952). Date(l March 9, 1952. _

After pr-imitive Japanese- ceramics. Tokyo (December 1953)

78

Study for a mu.ral in my house. Makati. (1953). 0


PLATE PLATE

80

79 Cambridge (1951)

Study for a small sculpture "Ecce Homo". Dated December 30, 1953.


J

One thousand copies ' of this book were printed on the presses of Carmelo & Bauermann, Inc., Ma.nila, in the month of May 1954. Th.e book was edited by R~ Zulueta ¡da Costa and Jose Roxas. The typography was execut.e d by Tirso Obispo; the offset work was under the direction of Enrique .carmelo and the techn.ical photography was done by Jamir. The type face 'Uo';ed is Caledonia and the paper is 80 lb. Offset Book. The cover was designed by F e.,nando Zobel. The motifs used are take1i from his Signature and his book-plate. F'i fteen copies bound in Philippine hand-woven cloth have been reserved for presentation.


Sketchbooks NC 1729 Z6 A2 RARE

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