Josep Gausachs Armengol (1889-1959) - Dos retratos

Josep Gausachs Armengol (1889-1959) - Dos retratos
Oil on panel - Signed - c.1930

2 paintings (front and back)
32 x 25 front
33 x 26 back

José Gausachs was a Spanish artist, disciple of great masters, such as Isidre Nonell and Félix Mestres Borrrel. He was influenced by the impressionists Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Gaugin and Van Gogh. Fellow and great friend of many avant-garde artists, such as Picasso, Modigliani, Marquet, Gargallo, Utrillo, Juan Gris, DeChirico, Fujita, Bracque and Marc Chagall, who used to call him ‘The Gentleman of Montparnasse”.

He was appreciated by intellectuals of his era, such as Tristan Tzara, who offered him great support during exile, praised by writers like Ernest Hemingway who even acquired one of his paintings, and poets such as Carles Ribas, who dedicated a poem to this remarkable painter. During his stay in the ‘city of light’ he engaged with the surrealist painters André Masson and André Breton.

In 1934, the poet Federico García Lorca described Spain as the only country in the world where death is a National show, referring to bullfights - the most ancient mass show in that country- and one of the oldest in the world. However, as of the beginning of that decade, that show threatened to get out of the bullfighting arena. Spain was a country about to be shattered, and it was completely divided. A modern, urban, secular, industrial nation where prosperous Socialist movements fought against rebellious anarchist groups coexisted with a more ancient one, with immense lands and poor peasantry, suffocated by the presence of the Catholic church, a nation which Pablo Picasso called the “Black Spain”. The problem was that both pretended to be the real nation and none of them was ready to accept the verdict of the Spaniards election.

José Gausachs did not remain distant and this is how the day where he took sides.

While Gausachs went to war, Picasso, after safeguarding his works, went to Paris. Origin of a career which is interrupted in Europe due to the Spanish Civil War and another one which covers itself in fame and an absurd reaction.

The year after, during the month of January, Picasso is visited in his workshop in order to invite him to participate in the Paris Exhibition of that year in company of other Spanish artists who had a pavilion so that they could express themselves against the Spanish Civil War. In April 1937, General Franco ordered the bombardment of the city of Guernica, and on the 1st May, Picasso started the painting that he presented in the exhibition with the title “Guernica”.

And when the ups and downs of fratricidal conflict obliged José Gausachs to quit his country, still recovering of the injuries received during one of the many bombing raids, he went to France with his son Francisco, where they were interned in the the concentration camp of Argelès-sur-Mer, an internment camp built by the government of France on a beach in the town of the same name, situated on the Mediterranean coast of the country so they could accommodate part of the refugees who crossed the border after the end of the Spanish Civil war and the victory of the General Franco in 1939.

To get an idea of the drama that the Catalan painter lived, in March of that same year, the photographer Robert Capa visited the enormous camp on Argelès beach, where more than 80 000 Spanish Republicans were locked up at that moment. The description that he made of that was: “ ....hell on the sand, men survive there under tents and straw huts offering a miserable protection against the sand and the wind. On top of that, there is no drinking water, but only the brackish water coming from holes dug in the sand”.

Thanks to the efforts made by several French painters through an English organization, José Gausachs and his son were taken out of that camp and brought in 1939 to an hotel in Narbonne, which served as a refuge to many Spanish intellectuals in order to begin their emigration to America.

Without any doubt, the Dominican Republic, with the arrival of José Gausachs, on the 11th of January 1940, counted with a world-class painter to whom Rafael Díaz Niese, General director of Fine Arts, -who had discovered a year before- offered him a position as a teacher in the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, founded in 1942, managed at the time by the basque sculptor Manolo Pascual, where the Catalan artist found a fertile land to start the hopeful pictorial movement coming up to our days, and his contribution gave as a result the training of evolved artists such as: Clara Ledesma, Gilberto Hernández Ortega, Paul Giudicelli, Eligio Pichardo, Domingo Liz, Ada Balcácer, Guillo Pérez, Antonio Toribio and Gaspar Mario Cruz. To those adhered little by little José Rincón Mora, Leopoldo Pérez, Fernando Peña Defilló, Oscar de la Renta, Cándido Bidó, Elsa Núñez and Iván Tovar, among other.

Pedro Delgado Malagon, published in the journal Rumbo an interview that he made to Spanish painter Tomasín Lopez Ramos, where he narrated a story telling that -during the 1950s- he was walking along a beach in the South of France and he met he master Picasso, whom, after the told him he was a disciple of Gausachs received him and invited him for two glasses of wine - something unusual in Picasso - and after learning of the needs and the state in which his friend was in Santo Domingo, sent him a card in which he put himself at his disposal for everything he would need and inviting him to visit his studio in Paris. Pedritín says that Lopez Ramos made an appointment with José Gausachs at the Hotel Comercial, located in the El Conde street so that he could surprise him, but to his astonishment Gausachs tore Picasso’s card apart pronouncing the phrase: "it is now that this ... remembers me."

The Catalan painter did never come back to Europe. As Jeannette Miller states in her book “ Arte dominicano, artistas españoles y modernidad: José Gausachs Armengol” was, among all the Spanish artists in exile, the most important figure in the Dominican art. His integration in the country was total and his teaching, determinant in the artistic generations who followed him. "Throughout the nearly 20 years that lived in Santo Domingo, he became the great master of Dominican art. His integration was conducted through the absorption of the ethnic, geographic and cultural elements that define the country. Blackness, as a factor of modern art in the early century, was an element in his paintings and drawings; as well as the tropical light that exceeded the mere capture of reality and became a symbol, illuminating his landscapes where the almost wild nature and the omnipresent sea play a determining role.

The figure of José Gausachs has a great attraction and his memory has come down to us reflected in excellent work

Lot details
Title of artwork
Dos retratos
Oil on panel
In very good condition
3 kg
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