1907-1939 Years of training and Republic

Jordi Falgàs

 

Colomer’s first works of art could be dated in 1925, when we have records that he took part in the Provincial Art Exhibition of the GEiEG with some drawings, but either they have not been conserved or not been able to be identified. There may also have been paintings and drawings from his student days in the Llotja, in the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc and in the academy of Josep Aguilera, a period in which we know he often exhibited with the Amics de les Arts. Some undated works which have been included in this chapter could be from this period, above all a still life or one of the landscapes of the outskirts of Girona, but his oldest work that is conserved, signed and dated, and until now unknown, is a drawing from 1930 (cat. no. 1, p. 84). Curiously, it is a female portrait, one of the genres he cultivated most frequently and throughout his life. The drawing could have been produced in either Girona, at the beginning of the year, or Brussels, where he lived from March. It is a work that shows that Colomer was already a fine illustrator: with economy of lines and small areas of shading to give volume to the forms, he manages to create a face which, staring fixedly at the observer, possesses a captivating strength.

In the following drawings, from 1932, Colomer’s second major subject matter already appears: the urban landscape of Girona, which would also be a constant until the end of his professional life. It is noteworthy that Colomer would not choose any of the typical Girona buildings or monuments but, in a very similar drawing and painting, chose the rear facade of the Callicó garage (cat. no. 2 and 3, p. 84-85). The building, demolished in 1980 to be replaced by what was for years the head office of the Bank of Spain, formed part of a series of industrial naves designed by Rafael Masó and had the main entrance in Gran Vía de Jaume I. Colomer, however, positioned himself in Bonastruc de Porta Street, close to the railway line, which can be seen as a horizontal line on the ground between the electricity poles. The spot was very well known by Colomer, since it was also the back part of Ronda Ferran Puig, number 10, where he and Francesc Gallostra had had their decoration business for a year. In reality, the view of the building is obstructed by the vegetation, a wall and the electricity poles that appear in the foreground and centre of the composition. In this early part of his career, Colomer already shows that he was not interested in the building as such but, clearly, what he sought was the play of forms in a spot that seems chosen at random, without apparent interest.

Colomer used a language that, from realism, was emphatically modern because it undermined the importance of the reason and spoke of a space on the periphery of the city, of industrial architecture, an apparently disordered and chaotic spot that for many people would not have been worthy of the artist’s glance. But in the geometric play of the plants, the poles, the electric cables and the forms of the building, to which he gives a very subtle and meticulous chromatism–the painting reflects a cold, snowy day–, Colomer spoke of the daily beauty and power of transformation that the artist’s sight had. He thus opened a discourse that he would never again abandon, despite the changes and evolution of his language.

A series of six drawings of architecture from 1938 have attracted my attention (cat. no. 10-15, p. 90-91), very meticulous in their treatment and presentation, and placed in a frame. Two stand out in particular, which carry the names “Amparo” and “¡Amparo! García Lorca”, hand written by Colomer. This undoubtedly shows that it is an image related to the poem of the same name by Federico García Lorca belonging to the Poema del cante jondo (1921-31), which begins with the verses: “Amparo, how alone you are in your house, dressed in white!” Perhaps it is about a series of illustrations for poems or projects for decorations of a theatrical work, as could be deduced from cat. no. 15