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Women in the Arts and Letters in Navarre (8). The second generation of Navarrese women painters

José Mª Muruzábal del Solar

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Diario de navarra

José Mª Muruzábal del Solar :: José Mª Muruzábal del Solar

partner of the Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art

Diario de Navarra, in partnership with the Chair of Heritage and Navarrese Art of the University of Navarra, addresses, monthly, with the help of specialists from various universities and institutions, aspects on the relationship of women with the arts and literature in Navarra.

The presence of women in Navarrese painting is late. We have to wait until the 20th century to find other pioneers of Navarrese painting. Some of them have been treated in the pages of Diario de Navarra, in a monographic way, in those articles that periodically publishes this media. I also had the opportunity to present the first generation of Navarre's female painters in a article that we can consider the predecessor of this one; that generation was that of Karle Garmendia, Rosa Iribarren or Francis Bartolozzi. We considered this generation up to 1915.

In this second generation we are going to present the Navarrese women painters born between 1920 and 1936, when the Spanish Civil War broke out. If in the previous generation we include the true pioneers, in this generation we will include another group of women who also had special difficulties to develop their vocation or profession. These women have been active actors, with greater or lesser importance, in the artistic panorama of Navarre in the second half of the 20th century.

The first female painters of this generation

The first three painters we include in this generation were born in the first part of the twenties. We will begin with the personality of Isabel Peralta, Isa (Pamplona, 1921 - Alicante, 2007). She began painting in 1954, attending classes with Javier Ciga. She then attended the School of Arts and Crafts, with Orella and Sacristan. Landscape painting, the best of his work, he learned with Jesús Basiano and later with Joan Vila, in Altea, whom he had the privilege of accompanying. Her first exhibition was at the Museum of Navarra in 1962. We are dealing with a painter with a work staff and intimate, dedicated to the landscape, both Navarre and Mediterranean, still lifes of flowers and monotype, where she made productions of considerable interest. Basically, she is a figurative painter, deeply colorful in her paintings. Some of her work is even close to the naïf technique. The Mediterranean brought even more color and luminosity to her aesthetic production. Trees, nature in general, and flowers in particular, are the favorite motifs of her paintings. In them he pours his expressiveness and colorful detail.

The second of the painters is Elena Goicoechea (Pamplona, 1922 - 2013), an artist who began her training in Pamplona with Javier Ciga and Pérez Torres. She wanted to study Fine Arts, but her family eventually discouraged her. In the forties she moved to Madrid to study with Eduardo Chicharro, alternating her programs of study with those of copyist of the Prado Museum. In 1952 she returned to her native Pamplona and married Dr. Fernando Goñi Arregui, ending her professional artistic degree program ; however, painting, her vocation, she continued to practice it all her life. She is the mother of the painter Elena Goñi Goicoechea. She exhibited at the DFN in 1947 and 1950. Elena Goicoechea's pictorial production was based on the classicism used by her teachers; her style was always figurative and realistic. The aesthetic capacity of the painter from Pamplona is demonstrated in the capture of the physical features of the human body and in the tactile qualities of the objects shown in her works. She practiced oil painting, graphite and, in recent times, watercolor and tempera. The subject matter of his production is centered on portraits and still lifes, but there are also examples of nudes, basically from the early period, and landscapes.

The third of the painters is Lourdes Unzu (Pamplona, 1924 - 2019). Her biographical and aesthetic journey is relatively similar to that of Elena Goicoechea, whose companion and friend she was. Trained with Javier Ciga, she accompanied Goicoechea to Madrid, sharing training and even her home. Professor Azanza has published her work as a copyist at the Prado Museum. Lourdes Unzu was interested in religious painting, with copies of Titian, Ribera or Murillo, portraits, with copies of Greco, or Velázquez, Goyaesque genre paintings and still life. He even exhibited in the EGUI galleries in Pamplona at Christmas 1951. In the fifties he returned to Pamplona, got married and largely forgot about his pictorial work. This is limited to portraits, still lifes and some landscapes. In a article, published in the magazine Pregón in 1955, in which Francis Bartolozzi, Elena Goicoechea and Lourdes Unzu talk about the difficulties of women painters, the latter affirms "this will be until the new fashions arrive here, those in which men know how to cook, fix the children and other domestic chores"; premonitory words.

The Painters of the turn of the decade

At the turn of the decade we point out two more painters. The first one is Isabel Baquedano (Mendavia, 1929 - Madrid, 2018). Isabel Baquedano began her career in the fifties; she studied Arts and Crafts in Pamplona, where she later taught from 1957 until her retirement and at the San Fernando Academy in Madrid. She is included in what was called the Pamplona School, to which artists such as Morrás, Salaberri, Aquerreta or Azketa belong. He is one of the few Navarrese artists with works in the Reina Sofía in Madrid. There is no doubt that we are before an authentic pillar of Navarre's 20th century art and one of the painters of the highest aesthetic level of our Community. She began working in realistic figuration, without losing sight of pop art or social criticism. Urban landscapes, integrating human figures in an atmosphere of solitude, everyday reality, themes from the history of art such as the circus or the Old and New Testament, constitute her interest until she created a universe of her own, in constant innovation.


The second artist to consider is Ana María Marín (Elizondo, 1933 - 2020), undoubtedly another basic artist within the panorama of our painting. She was exiled, along with the whole family, to France; her father was mayor of the Baztan Valley during the time of the Republic. She began her painting programs of study with the painter Ismael Fidalgo until 1952, when she moved to Madrid by committee of the painter Menchu Gal, continuing her programs of study in the Círculo de BBAA of Madrid. In 1954 he exhibits in Madrid with the painters Álvaro Delgado, Redondela, Ibarrola, Menchu Gal, etc. In 1956 he made his first individual exhibition in the conference room of García Castañón in Pamplona. He has worked very hard for the culture of his Baztan Valley and for the whole of Navarre. He was sworn mayor of Elizondo. For many, many years he exhibited, in the summers, in his house of Vergarenea in Elizondo, which became a social and cultural event of the first magnitude. In 2013 she celebrated a great anthological exhibition , of her 60 years of painting, in the Citadel of Pamplona. The aesthetic production of this artist works in oil and watercolor. Of the influences that sample her work she always talks about Van Gogh and her friend and teacher Menchu Gal. Although she has not shied away from representing figures or still life, Ana Mari Marín is a landscape painter, one of the greatest that Navarre has produced. And a painter especially of her Baztan Valley, of its villages and corners, of its colors and its seasons. It is true that she has taken her brushes to other places in Navarre and the Basque Country, France and Spain. Colorist above all, he expresses through color and the subject his intimate feeling for the landscape.

The closing of this generation

We will close this generation of painters by adding two more names. The first of them is Isabel Cabanellas (Gijón, 1934). Born into a family of military and liberal tradition, after training in her homeland, she studied teaching in Ibiza and Fine Arts in San Fernando. There she coincided with the Navarrese artists Jesús Lasterra and Antonio Eslava, whom she would marry. Shortly after, he settled in the capital of Navarre, where he has been living for 60 years. Her biography is multidisciplinary as she has been a teacher, artist, professor of Fine Arts, teacher and researcher in pedagogy. Since the beginning of her degree program she has merged the world of art with the world of childhood, graduating from the National Didactic Center of Florence and doing programs of study of psychology. Author of numerous publications, her work training of the plastic image of the child was award of the Ministry of Culture in 1980. Her essential work professor has been developed at the Pamplona Teacher Training School and at the UPNA. The aesthetic work of Isabel Cabanellas has been little known since her work professor and research has always prevailed over her aesthetic production. She has investigated with various techniques such as oil painting, drawing or engraving, in which her husband Antonio Eslava is a consummate master. Among her few public appearances in sample it is worth mentioning the one in 1971, exhibition individual in the conference room of García Castañón of the CAMP.

Finally, we close this list with the figure of Gloria Ferrer (Pamplona, 1936). Her artistic degree program began back in the sixties when, still a BBAA student, she won the second award of the competition Pamplona-Bayona painting contest, to win it the following year with the painting Bodegón de luces (Still Life of Lights). Gloria Ferrer began her preparation to enter BBAA with Professor Sacristán and Javier Ciga. She began her programs of study in San Fernando in Madrid, and culminated them in Sant Jordi in Barcelona, working with painters such as Santasusana and Sanvivens. His first exhibition in Pamplona was in 1965, in the conference room of García Castañón, exhibiting from here on in numerous places. In the nineties she began an extensive international career that has taken her to New York, Italy, France, etc. Gloria Ferrer has worked in her aesthetic production both landscapes and portraits, still lifes, figures or nature motifs, and in all of them stands out her special colorfulness, regardless of the chosen theme. An active and independent woman, she has always worked her way staff in the Navarrese art world, with free and daring, colorful and expressive works, which are a magnificent reflection of a creative spirit and committed to her art, through an expressionist, intimate and deeply colorful painting that characterizes the painter from Pamplona.

So far this brief sketch of these women painters. They may be few, but they undoubtedly demonstrate the drive of women to make their way in the complex world of art, working in complex historical moments for a female artistic vocation to be developed. We have probably left out other names such as Luisa San Julián or Mª Isabel Baleztena; perhaps we should also name the painters born during the Spanish Civil War, such as Inés Zudaire or Maribel Castuera. All this will be left for another occasion.