The career of the artist Julio González (Barcelona, 1876 - Arcueil, France, 1942) is defined by two periods separated by the years 1927 and 1929, the time he begins his collaboration with Pablo Picasso. The first of these periods is significant for his training as a metalsmith and his painting, while the second is characterised by his ultimate devotion to sculpture.
This exhibition comprises one hundred and twenty drawings that form part of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía's Collection and is also complemented with a selection of ten sculptures and enamel pieces, also from the Collection. The exhibition's chronology starts with his first drawings, realised in Paris (although in terms of style and iconography they reflect the spirit of Modernist art in Barcelona at the turn of the century), and ends with his last sketches, dating back to 1942. It strives to underline the role of drawing in González' oeuvre and its relevance as a complement to painting and sculpture. At first glance this appears clear, but fades as it moves towards abstract and analytical sculpture at the end of the Twenties, depicted by the drawing of new forms, as in Personaje extraño (1934) and Personaje de ciencia-ficción (1934).
As the artist himself claims, the real problem with art “is not only the desire to create harmony in your work... but procure it through the pairing of subject matter and space, through joining real forms with imagined ones, obtained or intimated by established points or perforations.” Therefore, when he reinforces his formula of “drawing in space” the role of the drawing changes as preparatory drawings no longer play a part.
In relation to this matter, Margit Rowell, a contemporary art specialist, notes how González eventually: “Recognises the difference between a pictorially accomplished image and a fully sculptural piece, not just the fact that it is three-dimensional, but rather the relationship between the image, the material, the technique, and the space; for him, the notion of 'drawing in space' refers to the direct process of working on metal.” This results in his drawings - particularly at the end of his life - gaining a kind of independence, works in their own right, as is the case with Mascara humor I (1940).
The drawings featured in this exhibition stress how González masters diverse techniques such as wash drawing, Indian ink, pen and ink, pencil and coloured pencil. Moreover, they are an example of his most idiosyncratic iconography, dominated by the female figure through representations of nudity, maternity, cleanliness, and the predominance of masks and portraits, which sit alongside his usual scenes of peasants working the land.
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