Perceval and Rosario de Velasco. Oh, if only I were from Madrid!

Perceval and Rosario de Velasco. Oh, if only I were from Madrid!
Perceval and Rosario de Velasco. Oh, if only I were from Madrid!

The recovery of any forgotten artist always constitutes a reparation that presents the happy face of rebirth to which the sad face inevitably opposes by way of comparison; and I say this because upon learning of the return of this artist to her hometown, the figure and work of Jesús de Perceval, her friend, her colleague in art… and in oblivion, comes to mind.

Retired Café de Levante, in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, a family property that belonged to the wife of our Count of Torre Marín: in its basement, with very little light and a lot of clutter, I saw a mural signed by Perceval, with schematic figures wandering in the firmament… which was there until the beginning of the seventies, and to convert that place into the headquarters of the Los Guerrilleros shoe stores, the previous reforms would, as usual, destroy that painting in one of the absences of the owner, Ángel Hernández, my sensitive friend from Accitano, whom I still remember climbing the walls on the back of indignation.

And it was no wonder; with blows of the horns, the mark left there by Jesús de Perceval had been erased. He had arrived at a Madrid that was effervescent in everything, including in the cultural field, and where it was not difficult for him to integrate, thanks to the good communication skills that he possessed and with which he managed so well in that gathering of young painters such as Rafael Zabaleta or Rosario de Velasco… in which there was no lack of the sporadic attendance of some other. consecrated just like Aurelio Arteta, whom Perceval heard say about his own creative activity: that “the painter is like a worker, who paints as well as works”… or does so, referring to himself, “to pay for the hospital”… arguments as pitiful as they are strange, which meant that our countryman’s great admiration for the Basque was reduced to the mere aspect of his painting.

A disappointment is shared by Rosario de Velasco, who was also a clear follower of the Bilbao artist and there are her “Adam and Eve” of 1932 to certify it, one of the most beautiful paintings of the 20th century… or the one presented in July 1936 to the National Fine Arts, in Madrid, a work of premonitory title: “The Massacre of the Holy Innocents”, whose development had been followed in the artist’s studio, a Perceval who in that same year had painted a painting that he would title “The Flight from Malaga” when he sent it in 1937, to win the gold medal, to the International in Paris, the same exhibition of Picasso’s “Guernica”, and which he presented with the work velasca multiple coincidences and none -contrary to what might be expected given the name- with “The Massacre of the Innocents” that the Almería native would paint fifteen years later.

He called her Rosaritonot to belittle her, because he knew she was great, but to shorten the years she was older than him, nine, which is a lot when you have few, while also taking away, and I don’t know why, the “de” from Velasco, when the goblin of names had already gotten ahead of him by erasing the artist’s second surname, which was none other, and hold on, because Belausteguigoitia, with a pronunciation almost as complicated as the coexistence in that time that would lead to the outbreak of the War, whose wave would displace Rosario to Barcelona and Jesús to Valencia and they would not meet again until the beginning of the forties, when they would once again enjoy in Madrid a friendship reinforced by the conceptual closeness they had in their works, which at that time would be dealt with by Eugenio d’Ors in his II and IV Salón de los Once.

From direct testimony from the painter I learned that around that time both he and Rosario learned the old Roman technique of encaustic by the famous painter and muralist José Aguiar, Cuban by birth and Canarian at heart, in his small Madrid studio, a preview of the one that the artist would end up setting up in Pozuelo de Alarcón in 1947. If the use of this procedure was a constant in Perceval’s work, the use that Velasco made of it is a mystery that may be revealed to me by the visit that I plan, with joy, to make to his exhibition.

Years went by and Rosario returned to Barcelona like Jesus to Almería and already in the fifties there were several visits that the Almerian made to the city of Barcelona, ​​one of which is the one from which comes the photo illustrating this page, taken in 1953 in the house of the critic Rodríguez Aguilera, with whose wife, Mercedes de Prat, in blue and white, Rosario de Velasco appears, with Perceval in profile and Zabaleta facing forward… Except for these few, the contacts were epistolary as it was recorded, and may be recorded, among the Perceval collections today in the Institute of Almería Studies, but I fear that the Inquisition that zealously purged the papers from the painter’s personal archive condemned to the stake all those letters that displayed a woman’s pointed handwriting.

From my joy at the reappearance of the great artist, I thank – and envy – the work of family members and professionals, the collaboration of the Fine Arts Museum of Valencia and the welcome of the Thyssen Museum of Madrid. Thus, in a fair and generous way, is how Mama Almería should present her artist children to visitors, not locking them up, ashamed of them, in the attic of the house (Doña Pakyta’s museum), while proudly showing the neighbor’s children in the living room (the Hospital museum). The truth is that I have never understood Perceval’s filial love. It seems like that masochist who, speaking so badly, said so well: “more contrimas hit me more I love you”; that theirs was an unconditional love and certainly unrequited and yet I never heard him complain about Almería… but that’s what I’m here for, to make the wish that he would silently ask himself on more than one occasion, keeping it to himself: Oh, if only I were from Madrid!

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