In order to know how to paint, first you have to know how to look. And looking is something that can be learnt. Fernando Zóbel (Manila, 1924–Rome, 1984) gave practical expression to this credo throughout a fascinating, systematic yet creative exploration of painting that spanned a career lasting over forty years. Zóbel – who trained in the Philippines, Europe and America, graduated from Harvard and settled in Spain in the late 1950s – was at once painter, scholar, teacher, translator and collector; among other unusual projects, he also founded two museums: the Ateneo Art Gallery in Manila (1961) and the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca (1966).
Zóbel’s painting offers a singular example of 20th-century avant-garde art; if not unique, his oeuvre may certainly be considered extreme. For an artist with his deep and dazzling knowledge of the artistic and literary traditions both of the West and of Asia, modernism entailed not a break with figuration and the history of painting, but rather their rediscovery; not a forgetting of the past, but rather the revealing of a future embedded in the work of the great masters. Zóbel. The Future of the Past reconstructs the poetic and artistic journey of a painter guided by a twofold principle: “Teaching to see and learning to see”.
With texts by Florina H. Capistrano-Baker, Patrick Flores, Amy T. Chang, Alfonso de la Torre, Peter Soriano, Celina Quintas y David Plaza, Yiyi Liang, Miguel Peña Méndez and Ángeles Villalba Salvador.