May 16, 2006

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


Between tradition and modernity: Inocencio García Asarta

D. Ignacio J. Urricelqui Pacho



Inocencio García Asarta, Aguadoras. C.a. 1900-1905. Collection Parliament of Navarre.

The lecture delved into the biography and artistic production of the Navarrese painter Inocencio García Asarta, one of the main local authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It also made it possible to understand the pictorial production in Navarre at a time of special artistic development in Spain, when new aesthetic approaches from European centers such as Paris began to be applied to traditional trends.

Inocencio García Asarta was a traditional artist despite living in a period of profound social and political changes that resulted in a process of pictorial modernization. Trained in the main artistic centers of the time, both nationally, Barcelona and Madrid, and internationally, Rome and Paris, he knew how to combine respect for drawing and traditional themes with the employment of a rich chromatism applied with loose brushstrokes, which reached its best moment during the decades of 1890 and 1900. 

Attracted by the economic boom in Bilbao, he decided to settle professionally in this city around 1900, entering contact with the important artistic environment there. Introduced in the most select circles by the businessman Laureano de Jado, he acquired B fame in the field of portraits, landscapes and genre scenes, with which he was able to satisfy the demand of the local clientele. Nevertheless, the decade from 1910 until his death in 1921 marked his professional decline and staff, although during those years he enjoyed the support of distinguished Bilbao personalities, among them the politician Domingo Epalza.

Stylistically, Inocencio García Asarta paid attention to drawing and the application of a naturalistic coloring without stridency. He was not attracted by the new artistic currents that he could have known in Paris or Bilbao, remaining always respectful with the canons of academic painting received in Vitoria, Rome or Madrid. However, a certain interest in French Impressionism can be noticed in the use and application of color, especially during the period 1890-1910. 

Thematically, he showed a special predilection for portraiture, although he left magnificent examples in the field of landscape and genre painting. He also painted historical scenes and still lifes of great plastic beauty. Among his most outstanding works are "Escabechería", (ca. 1903), from the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao, "Portrait of a girl", pastel from the Museum of Navarre signed in 1898, "Aguadoras", from the Parliament of Navarre, or the landscape "Vida igual" and the historical scene of the "Alzamiento del primer rey navarro sobre el pavés", both from 1907, property of the City Council of Pamplona.