Isidoro Lázaro and the sensual pleasure of good painting
Like the hunter after his prey, flushed with the joy of the chase rather than that of the certain death his skill foresees, Isidoro Lázaro stalks the country-side he prefers. As Rubén Darío puts it: Nimrod hunter of all, he does not look for blood but rather the soft beat of the aesthetic. Restless under his cold appearance, he walks with careful pace and sparkling eye in search of that simple spot that pleases him, that view that attracts him or the garden where his gaze can wander without forgetting the thrill of female skin or the strength of a male gesture. Sensations all born of a desire to softly caress; of a finger tips, the glad epidermis of the world, changed into brushes
The artist is young but he paints like the old masters. He does not imitate them nor does he follow them, but he allows himself to be carried away by a common guide. He knows the techniques of today and yesterday and so he knows they are merely a means to express what he feels inside him. So he plans his brushwork freely, without tying himself to any reestablished formula and thus, realist that he is, his figures have an abstract vibration. One only has to study the background to his paintings, or the details in certain areas of his pictures or the simple sobriety of others to see that while he is open to the restlessness of our basic thinking of today, which is that of always, he can still take delight in the graciousness of the form. If the world is beautiful in many of its aspects and if man has tried ever since the principles of civilization were first established, to reproduce whatever exists so as to give his emotions a stable continuity, then why shouldn’t we take advantage of these natural gifts to reproduce whatever is established so as to bring our innate sense of beauty up to date?
Isidoro Lázaro was born in Barcelona on April 26, 1949 under the sign of Taurus and is widely in love with beauty. He feels for it totally and demands, without suffering for this demand, the maximum refinement whenever he comes across it. Ignorant from childhood of all systematic study of the sciences and letters, he understands the mechanical dynamism in seemingly static nature and he is moved by the growth of the leaves, the blooming of a flower, the rhythm of an ordered garden, in which man has structured the values of vegetable life.
The music of a fountain, the symmetry of a tile, the confidence of a railing’s shadow, the tense curve of the back of a horse born to run, the barroque juiciness of a piece of fruit and the restful glow of a woman satisfied in love. All these are elements that affect so decisively his style. Mixture of Catalan and Valencian thanks to his forefather’s origins, this style goes back, without his knowing, to his Arabic ancestors. His paintings look for the remains, fainter and fainter in their natural habitats and far removed from the tourist exhibitions, of a patio in Cordova, a doorway in Grenada, a small corner in Seville smelling of myrtle or a view of the gardens in the Majorcan Alfabia mountains; all so linked to a Moorish past. He feels the soult of the Spanish Arab, which Machado, poet of strong castillian accents and Moorish sensitivity, alluded to. He trusts in the witchery of a few happy moments other than those of the medieval romances, when the invader, scimitar in hand and mounted on his swift steed, knew the joy born of peace, however ephemeral it may be, and cultivated the pleasures of the spirit.
Isidoro Lázaro studied in the Superior School of Fine Arts of San Jorge in Barcelona where he graduated in 1973. In fact he taught himself for even though he appreciated the help given by his teachers – especially that of Josep Puigdengolas, the great Catalan master, who did not force his students to follow his own style but rather let them develop freely and furthermore who gave Isidoro Lázaro his first opportunity to exhibit – he did not feel at home with a syllabus. And not because he wanted to practice informalism and improvisation without rules, which seem mere tricks when they are not felt fully, but because he wanted to be absolutely demanding as far as form was concerned in order to express his way of understanding how life showed itself through the joy produced by obtaining the results he looked for.
Isidoro Lázaro has been exhibiting since 1974 and every time with greater success. Barcelona and Madrid are the two more important centres but he is known throughout Spain. And since 1985, when the Nonell and Alcolea art galleries began to help him in his exhibitions, his works have been acquired by important European and American collectors. But this si not he most important for this painter although it is important as it represents the public recognition which helps to stimulate the artist. He feels his work as a spontaneous manifestation of his spirit and he understands that the joy produced by it – pleasure hedged by doubts and problems – is the most important because thus he can communicate with the world. If all he looked for was admiration for the undeniable skills that he possesses, he would feel separated from himself and from the public who follow him.
Isidoro Lázaro coincides with the Arabic theme of Fortuny and with the love that Rusiñol felt for French gardens, in time and mode that are not only surpassed but also assimilated. He has their same love for the light that creates the different colours, that orders the different shades of green, once the range is chosen. He enjoys the adventure of what is apparently spontaneous the colour of a piece of clothing, the transparency of tulle – and he feels happy when he paints the form with which the closely woven honeysuckles create a roof and throw everchanging shadows on the pebbles on the ground.
Fortuny’s Luminarism swept away much of the useless that had been gathered by pictorial realism and prepared the way for the Impressionists. Rusiñol’s Modernism – and his especially as this Catalan artistic movement was very complex – grew from his Lyricism and from his love for Romantically inspired scenes and reached the exaltation of rational aestheticism placed at the service of civilization and culture, in which respect he was a predecessor of Novecentism. Both Fortuny and Rusiñol – the first with a short but intensely felt life; the second with a much longer life, in which capacity and dispersion along with the relief sought for the pains created by ever-present illnesses, did not allow continuity in his pictorial success – are two major points of reference when studying the works of Isidoro Lázaro, but they do not represent an objective, rather a pleasant coincidence along the way.
The greatest danger that appears in Isidoro Lázaro future in all human trajectories there are many and the taller one walks, the bigger the danger – is that of his ease or capacity. But he is aware of this and he is careful not to fall into the temptation of sleeping on his laurels.
One can see the creative tension in his notebooks as well as his enthusiastic dedication to what he does and he transmits these feelings, which he is the first to notice, to his paintings. So if ever he feels empty inside when faced with a theme that he has been working on or indifferent to something that once moved him, he knows he must change. One period will have finished because a new one is opening up before him. For a painter such as Isidoro Lázaro change does not mean a new direction but rather an enrichment of the present one. New themes – especially enormous urban views, in which the cities unfold as in an enormous tapestry – and new approximations to the infinite varieties of the light give him a personal reason for painting. Because painting according to the dictats of success or to the demands of those who want faithfully repeated aesthetic emotions is not going to help the necessary continuity of the former nor the growing respect expected by works with content and not just form.
Development is obligatory for a young artist like Isidoro Lázaro who is now entering his expressive maturity. But his development seems to me to be focused on the emphasis of expressive capacity. I believe that he is embarking on a stage in which external formal richness is firmly growing through the expression of the artist’s feelings. He is moving forward with self-confidence and he not only transmits emotions that are basically shared by many because they are to be found in the origins of human attraction for beauty but he also orients and establishes his hierarchy of values with more strength each time.
It isn’t that he imposes through his strength of command, he does it through the kindness of his arguments and reasoning. The first to have to understand the painting he does – not when he is doing it but when it is done – is the painter himself. This needs years of practice and sometimes is not possible. But I believe Isidoro Lázaro is about to do it or perhaps he has done it. It is something very important to enable him to keep developing within the artistic truth that he pursues, a work born of the emotions and destined to stay thanks to its content.