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The sculptor who has revolutionized sacred art, Venancio Blanco, received last Friday February 24 the Medal of Honor of the Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors, surrounded by numerous friends and partners who did not want to miss this simple tribute to which came numerous Friends and followers of the salmantino artist.
The presidential table was formed by the President of the Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors, José Gabriel Astudillo López, by the Vice President of the centenary entity, Juan de la Cruz Pallares García, by the honored guest, Venancio Blanco, the General Secretary of AEPE , Mª Dolores Barreda Pérez, by the Honorary Member and also sculptor Julio López Hernández, who did not want to miss the act, and by the President of the Spanish Association of Art Critics, Tomás Paredes.
In addition to the son of the honoree, several members of the Board of Directors of the institution were present, such as the members Juan Manuel López-Reina, Alicia Sánchez Carmona, Pedro Quesada, the Treasurer Ana Martínez Córdoba, the Librarian Fernando de Marta and Sebastián , And Presidential Adviser Itziar Zabalza Murillo, as well as various personalities such as Francisco Molina, Prado Workshop Director, Venancio Blanco Foundation Director and many artists and partners.
Full of personal and artistic references, an emotional act took place in which, by way of introduction, the General Secretary, Mª Dolores Barreda Pérez, made a brief tour of the artistic and professional career of the renowned painter with a special emphasis on providing those present with an outline Summarized as Venancio Blanco, and not only his biography, with data and dates cold and distant, but introducing those present in life, thinking and a little bit in the artist’s magical soul.
Because of the intimacy of his words and the fiery defense of his human profile, we next describe the entire intervention of the General Secretariat:
“Ladies and gentlemen, dear partners and friends, very good afternoon to all and welcome to this common house which is the Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors.
Today we celebrate the act of imposing the Medal of Honor of the entity to D. Venancio Blanco.
This is a sincere and heartfelt act that the only thing that pretends is to pay homage to a great artist, a great person.
I must here recapitulate his artistic career in great strokes, but what about a genius like him … I think I would always fall short.
From his relationship with this Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors I can cite you that Venancio has participated in the National Exhibitions, of which he has the First Medal, and has been several times a member of the Autumn Hall Jury, the last time in the year 1990, when it arrived at the edition number 57 of traditional contest.
From his biography, as on previous occasions that this award has been granted, I would like to send you to any encyclopedia, or better yet, to the Venancio Blanco Foundation website, where you will find detailed information about his life, which I will trace only a few lines, since what interests us here is the human profile of a great man like Venancio Blanco.
Venancio Blanco was born in 1923 in Matilla de los Caños del Río (Salamanca), but later he was raised in the neighboring town of Robliza de Cojos, cattle ranches with bulls and oak trees, which will mark his work.
He studied in the Elementary School of Work and in the Applied Arts and Crafts of Salamanca and in the School of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid.
In Italy, he discovered sculpture, not only as an element of artistic expression, but as a way of life. There he learned the whole process of casting bronze. And as he says: “Rome has been everything to me.”
Much later he would discover the classical Greece where he was ecstatic of this dispossession of formal essences, in the total purification he had always sensed and found there.
Professor of Modeling at the School of Arts and Crafts of Madrid, he is an Academic of Fine Arts and a corresponding member of the Pontificia Insigne Artistic Academy of the Virtuosi to the Pantheon, as well as many others such as the Royal of Santa Isabel de Hungary of Seville, the Real de Córdoba and the Purísima Concepción of Valladolid.
In 1981 he was appointed director of the Spanish Academy of Fine Arts in Rome.
The work of Venancio turns in two great subjects: the religious one and the bullfighting.
In the religious theme they coincide their aesthetic and spiritual concerns with the renewal of the Second Vatican Council, but without neglecting the traditional imagery.
In his tauromachias, which part of the models of Mariano Benlliure, dispenses with the detail of detail to focus on the search for forms with an obvious economy of matter, in a line very close to abstraction.
When he remembers the bull in the field, he does it first with fear, then with respect and later with the ideal of beauty that the animal gives off, transferring it to sculpture, figure, aesthetics and dynamics, to the grandeur of His nobility.
Other themes present in her work are sports, flamenco, cante jondo, the female nude … all expressed through elemental forms that are identified with the overwhelming weight of feeling in the forms. And also as a subject the bullfighters, who at first were impersonal and abstract but who ended up adapting to certain right-handers like the Sevillian Juan Belmonte.
He is a member of the Six Sculptors group, formed by José Carrilero Gil, Joaquín García Donaire, César Montaña, Benjamín Mustieles and Jesús Valverde.
The group of Six Sculptors was created in the 1960s in Madrid and is part of the neofigurative sculpture, a tendency that shows an interest in representing reality through forms between academic figuration and informalism.
Venancio is a long career full of exhibitions, prizes and recognitions of various kinds, reflecting the art of a sculptor of the best, who has managed to find and maintain the purity of forms, and an optimistic sculptor who has been Always learning and starting.
In 1997 Venancio Blanco created the Foundation that bears his name, aimed at promoting the diffusion of sculpture and drawing in society, especially among young people and children.
Formed in the wake of the classics within the most up-to-date avant-gardes, Venancio Blanco is a figure in his own right in the art world. Within the currents of naturalism, for some scholars of his work, part of the group next to the neofigurativismo of the Six Sculptors for others and a free genius impossible to be pigeonholed in a concrete tendency for the majority of those who observe his work, the artist salmantino creates With the need to “discover beauty and transmit it,” as he has manifested on many occasions.
Blanco considers life and personal experiences as a succession of workshops that have gone on an endless journey on hundreds of works of art, today spread across our country and beyond our borders.
Like all great artists, he considers indispensable an excellent technical training in drawing and modeling. Proof of this are his own compositions, perfect, inspiring, figurative or schematic, his impressive vision of the void, of voids, which the viewer can understand as the soul of the pieces.
In short, a creation thoughtful, detained, full of sensations that masterfully translates to a material such as bronze.
In his work as a creator there is a constant presence of the drawing that he defines as a mystery. In his own words, “If you know how to draw, you seldom waste time looking anywhere. Drawing is understanding, even of what may be surprise. Beauty is always linked to surprise, to drawing, to life. If you want to enjoy life, you have no choice but to observe nature and watch how the drawing teaches you. The idea, until it finds the matter, is a mental fact. It is the drawing that chooses the ideal material so that the caprice of the idea – almost always the idea is capricious – does not lose its meaning “.
He values the man, the friend, the friendship. He misses the constructive criticism he has always cultivated surrounded by friends and students and is a lover of sense of humor, trust and sincerity.
Artists only give them advice: “to draw every day and to know the different subjects to have the freedom to express an idea. And above all, that every day they have greater illusion “.
He is proud to be an Academician, because in his own words, “The Academy is full of teachers, who respect the work you do.” And he continues to think that for an artist, being an academic is one of the most important awards.
The humanist aspect of Venancio has influenced all his creative and educational work, which shows us the profound religious dimension of his work. Because Venancio is a Christian artist and a believing sculptor.
Venancio is a man who prays. When today he blushes to confess some beliefs, Venancio is brave and assures that “they taught me to pray as a child, and praying I learned to draw.” The Lord’s Prayer is the first drawing he does every morning, because later, “the ideas are clearer.”
For all this, Venancio Blanco has contributed to the transformation of the Spanish sacred art, is a reference of the renewal of this art, having to appreciate its capacity to renew the sources of the Christian inspiration from an attitude of faith that equates it to other consecrated artists, For its artistic quality and its creativity, which transcends the anachronism in which religious art was plunged.
His work conveys a strong expressiveness and spirituality, which flood all its forms. The evident gravity of his creations, the tragic dramatism and the stylization towards verticality add all his work to an ascetic world full of hope.
For Venancio, the exercise of sculpture is almost contemplative because being a believing artist, he has become an expert of the transcendent search based on daily dialogue with God, with others and with matter.
Venancio is a kind, attentive man, knows to listen, reprimand with affection, with desire to encourage and to make the best of each one.
In the course of his work there is no dilemma between abstraction and figuration. Both qualities are always united and inseparable. Reality presents us with forms, apparently understandable, tangible but that carry with them a component of abstraction that is the one that distinguishes and individualizes them.
That is why, when we enjoy the work of Venancio we can see in it something else that hides behind the surface. A gesture, a texture, the intense stroke done with coal. They are the ones that make drawing or sculpture something that transcends matter. It is what moves us and excites us, it transmits truth, goodness and beauty, three qualities implicit in each of its pieces regardless of the theme.
All this is nothing more than the tangible demonstration of the greatness of his soul, the generosity of his heart and the rectitude of his feelings.
That is why, for this Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors, it is an honor to grant this distinction to an excellent sculptor and an extraordinary person.
Venancio: We just want this to be a sign of the deep admiration that all the members and friends gathered here, we feel for your work and the merits for the award of this Medal that today proudly distinguishes you.
Thank you very much”.
The President then handed the Medal of Honor to Venancio Blanco, who received it excitedly and addressed a few words to those attending in which he could only thank the honor and declare himself happy and excited by the fact of being there, and truly know object Of such special attention.
The President’s words were:
“D. Venancio Blanco, members of the Board of Directors, attending authorities, dear partners and friends, all welcome and thank you for your presence in this act that honors me to preside.
This Association has always believed that honoring the great artists that Spain has was a duty with history, with the Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors and with all the people who have demonstrated your love and commitment to this institution and the world Of the fine arts.
Spain is losing the custom of paying homage and monumental tributes to the true geniuses of art. The memory of artistic personalities that magnify our society with its art is no longer glorified or perpetuated. There are no longer any important commissions to make great monuments in which to look for the most permanent sculptural values and of secular validity.
This is the great demand that I want to make today from this rostrum. From our media, with our grain of sand, we want to pay tribute to one of the great geniuses of the sculpture: Venancio Blanco.
We do not do it with necklaces or decorations, or pompous acts full of media and curious. We do it in a simple, heartfelt and humble way, in a sincere recognition to who has done so much for the sculpture in Spain.
Tomorrow there will be no newspaper headlines or TV reviews because Spain no longer likes to pay tribute or honors.
To pay homage always ennobles the one who receives it, but it also enhances the one who gives it. Because it is right to praise and recognize who should be admired and respected by his creation and by his example.
Our present society, especially our young sculptors, need references and values, they need momentum and hope. And that’s what Venancio Blanco represents: the humanist values that emerge from his creations are the result of work, effort and sacrifice, which are the only way to success.
But also Venancio Blanco is a reference and example to follow, a man capable of influencing the youth, with the capacity to excite and encourage it to assume the risks that every artist must face, as well as to stand again in the face of failures and Critical.
The work of Venancio Blanco is timeless. It likes different generations because it transcends, because it makes us think, it makes us feel, it makes us identify ourselves as part of a creative idea that knows how to project and share its creation with the rest of the world.
And for this we must thank him and for this he has become worthy of this recognition, because only men like him are impelling the creators and perfectly show a singular description of our identity and our qualities as men.
We recognize here the difficulties that Venancio has encountered throughout his life. But the sacrifices he has made, the joys he has experienced and the singular meaning that he has for the whole of his artistic and professional production and experience are today an example for many artists in Spain. Because the example of his life interests us all.
It has been said that perhaps the sense of art is to offer incessantly the option of perfecting itself to men. For this reason, this award recognizes a life, a personal path that bequeaths us in the works delivered, a visible reference in which we are offered, by reviving and contemplating them, also be artists. It offers us a possibility of action that transcends mere enjoyment and allows us, merging in the dynamics of its own strength, also improve.
The life of Venancio Blanco represents an essential moment of our sculptural culture; In each and every one of his works we recognize something of ours and find references to express ourselves and communicate.
The Medal of Honor that we present today is a way of confirming, reaffirming that, in the full effort to overcome adverse circumstances, we are happy to live and that in life there is a great beauty. You have shown us this. As you have also taught us that there is no progress without culture. And as we also know that Spain will not progress without examples like the one you represent.
Your humanist trajectory, your work, your illusion, your example, are the attitudes that we recognize today with the award of this Medal that in the name of all the artists of Spain I have the honor to surrender.
After listening to the words of our General Secretary, who has essentially reflected who Venancio Blanco is, there would be a great deal more to say about his sculptures, because here we have hardly been able to approach his life and work very narrowly, but I would like you to leave Today after having been able to transmit some of the spirit that animates the extraordinary work of Venancio Blanco, which we are celebrating now as it deserves.
However, before concluding, I wish to record an exceptional part of Venancio that directly concerns us and is the fact that we can be proud that Spain has an incomparable set of pieces of this humanist, this worker, this walker and indefatigable ascetic; The best representative today in the world of what, thanks to him, we continue to call sculpture today. Seldom have I felt more proud and happy to participate in a solemn act of recognition as the present.
Congratulations Venancio “.
He was then required to sign in the Book of Honor of the Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors, and he did so, leaving also drawn a simple cross, vigorous and a tremendous force that made the delights of all who contemplated it.