Spanish, 1894 - 1980
signed & dated "B. Palencia, 66" (lower right)
oil on canvas
25-3/4 x 21-3/8 inches (65 x 54 cm.)
framed: 34-3/4 x 30 inches (88 x 76 cm.)
THIS WORK IS ACCOMPANIED BY A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY Nº 129847 ISSUED BY IGNACIO DE LASSALETTA, EXPERT ON BENJAMÍN PALENCIA´S WORK.
Benjamín Palencia Pérez (Barrax, Albacete, July 7, 1894-Madrid, January 16, 1980) was a Spanish painter and illustrator, founder of the Vallecas School. In the broad set of his work, the poetics of the Castilian landscape defined by the generation of 98 stands out.
He is one of the main Spanish artists of the 20th century and one of the great artists of Spanish painting, a transformative piece of Castilian landscaping and an essential figure of the Spanish pictorial avant-garde of the 20th century. His prolific work consists of 600 paintings and 10,000 drawings.
He was the painter of the poets of the generation of 27, author of the logo of La Barraca by Federico García Lorca, a company of which he became artistic director. In his career he received numerous awards and recognitions, including the First Medal at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts (1943), the Grand Cross of Civil Merit (1958) or the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts (1978).
He was born on July 7, 1894 in Barrax - a town located next to the capital of Albacete - in the bosom of a humble family, the ninth of eleven siblings. His father was probably a shoemaker. He lived in Barrax until approximately 1909, when he was 15 years old, he moved to Madrid accompanying his parents. In Madrid he met Rafael Gómez Egóñez, a rich and cultured civil engineer who for many years was his tutor and protector. In the capital of Spain he attended classes with Elías Tormo and copied Velázquez and El Greco at the Prado, and in 1917 he participated in an exhibition for young artists where an illustrious visitor, Juan Ramón Jiménez, became interested in him; This meeting gave rise to subsequent collaborations between the two. During this period he frequented the Student Residence where he met Francisco Bores and Salvador Dalí with whom he attended the Free Academy founded by Julio Moisés.
Creation of the Vallecas School
Together with the sculptor Alberto Sánchez, a participant, like him, in the Exhibition of the Iberian Artists Society at the Retiro Palace in Madrid, around 1929 they started what would later be called the first Vallecas School.
In 1925 he briefly passed through Paris, where he shared a studio with Pancho Cossio and made friends with other artists from the Bores circle, such as José Mari Uzelai and Manuel Ángeles Ortiz. On his return he spent a season in Alicante and Altea. In 1928 he exhibited the work of that period in the Palace of Libraries and Museums in the Spanish capital, with the support and backing of Rafael Alberti and José Bergamín. Despite protests from visitors to that first exhibition, Palencia exhibited again in the same place two years later, in the fall of 1930. In 1932 he began to collaborate in La Barraca by Federico García Lorca, making the scenography and the figurines for his montage of "Life is a dream", by Calderón.
In 1932 he made his third individual exhibition at the aforementioned Palace of Libraries and Museums. A year later, his exhibition at the Parisian gallery of Pierre Loeb aroused the admiration of Braque and Picasso and, apparently, gave him the opportunity to meet the 'staff' of French surrealism: André Breton, Louis Aragon and Benjamin Péret. In 1933 he collaborated with the Constructive Art Group assembled by the Uruguayan Joaquín Torres García, and participated in the exhibition organized at the Ateneo de Madrid that same year. The following year, his reflections on Italian painting were published in Bergamín Cruz y Raya's magazine.
Second School of Vallecas
During the civil war Palencia took refuge in his Madrid studio and in landscape painting, gradually abandoning experimentation. After the war, for three years it brought together some old followers and a handful of students from the San Fernando School of Fine Arts, Álvaro Delgado Ramos, Carlos Pascual de Lara, Gregorio del Olmo, Enrique Núñez Castelo and Francisco San José, among others. , in what Palencia himself baptized as El Convivio and which later became known as the second Vallecas School, embryo of the Madrid School.4 5
His need for silence and solitude led him, from 1941, to spend summers in the town of Serafín, his servant, Villafranca de la Sierra, in the province of Ávila. There, in a valley in front of the eras, 6 he ended up building, in 1953, a villa designed by his friend Luis Felipe Vivanco. The following year his beloved uncle Rafael passed away, who, in a final gesture of patronage, declared the painter heir to his property. His "vital guide" dead, 7 Serafín assumed that role, until his death in 1969, when it was his sister, Salomé Palencia, who took care of the painter.
Since 1942, the summers in Villafranca were completed with the autumns and winters in his apartment in Altea, a Levantine town that Benjamin had known since 19278 Later, in 1977, he left the apartment in Altea, moving the winter studio to his new home in Polop of the Marine.
In 1974 he entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid and four years later in the Catalan of San Jordi. On November 10, 1978, at the inauguration of the Albacete Museum (with an important donation of works by the artist, a total of 130), Queen Sofía announced the award of the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts. Finally, in 1979, he bequeathed a large part of his work to the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art. He died in Madrid on January 16, 1980 at the age of 85.9 In his testamentary memory there were 600 oil paintings and 10,000 drawings.
Initially dazzled by a surrealism of zoomorphic and vegetal forms, he kept in his retina certain aspects of Cubism that were key in the schematization of his landscapes, undoubtedly the most representative of his abundant work. If in 1932 he joined the Constructive art group, after the civil war he practiced an austere realism, which recovers much of the poetics of the Castilian landscape, and leads to the so-called Iberian Fauvism that made him one of the pupils of Eugenio d ' Ors and his Brief Academy.