Júlio Pomar: the Figuration Artist
Júlio Pomar was one of the artists with the greatest impact on Portuguese art in the 20th century, since the beginning of his career. Committed to social problems, he started in the neo-realism artistic movement, which took up the aesthetic and social attitude of nineteenth-century realism, while simultaneously demonstrating the new concerns of the twentieth century. For seven decades it managed to constantly reinvent itself, whether in the techniques and means used or in artistic movements.
Among modern Portuguese painters, Júlio Pomar is one of the few — like Paula Rego — whose figuration, not only human, is the main theme. Many were the animals portrayed by Júlio Pomar : the pig, the monkey, the tiger, the crow, the elephant, the giraffe, the deer, the turtle, the bull, the cat, the horse, the dog, the wolf, the goat and the goat, the seagull and the fly. In this article we will discuss how these were represented in different artistic typologies.
Hammer and three fruits by Júlio Pomar , 1991-2002
Julio Pomar among the animals
First, in an abstract movement, between 1960 and 1966, we have the Tauromaquias cycle, which, according to Alexandre Pomar: "emerges, with the diversity of its various thematic topics, as a more emblematic series, to the horse races already painted in Paris, to where Pomar moves in 1963. In them, the reading of a problematic of movement was polarized, differentiated in the two series, where the tensional architecture of the forces in combat, first, and then the continuous speed coincide in the pictorial game as a syncopated arabesque and appear deferred the way you build your own space."
Julio Pomar's Blue Tiger
Between 1978 and 1982, Júlio Pomar's fascination for tigers appears, due to the invitation of Joaquim Vital to illustrate the translated edition Tigres Azules , by Jorge Luís Borges. In this tale the tiger is never seen, only its footprints appear daily, however the painter decided to represent these cats as the main theme, occupying a frontal or profile position. In the 1980s, the crows appeared, linked to the poets of Lisbon in the tiles of the Altos dos Moinhos Metro Station. This animal capable of speaking has a great symbolism for the city of Lisbon, as it is part of its coat of arms. Furthermore, it became a poetic device for Fernando Pessoa and Júlio Pomar.
“São Vicente, it has been proven, entered the Tagus in a navigator's corpse under the guard of two crows… The crows, after such a vigilant voyage, as soon as they were on land, they jumped up and down to unwind and, entering alleys and lanes, entered soon in coexistence… But, although with one or another detour to unwind, in the neighborhoods of the capital, the crows came to life. Pátio do Corvo, in São Vicente de Fora, Rua dos Corvos, at the Escadinhas de Santo Estêvão, Terreiro do Corvo, in the Sé. It is a legend of Lisbon.” - José Cardoso Pires.
Júlio Pomar's Cooking Monkey
The following decade is marked by the paintings and serigraphy of the four monkeys, carrying out human activities, such as cooking. These works can be approached, practically as an ironic self-portrait or a pictorial satire of the activities that humans carry out daily. In the summer of 1992, the artist started the series “ L'Année du Cochon ” (The Year of the Pig), as the year of the pig was celebrated in the Chinese calendar. Júlio Pomar said: “ Several events overlapped. First, my old attraction to the animal… At that time, I smoked two or three packs a day and gave me cigarettes to decorate my mythological characters with, which I put between my fingers or in the corners of my mouth. So, I had to introduce The Harms of Tobacco in the Year of the Pig .” Later, they appear again linked to the episode of the Odyssey concerning Circe's temptations and works such as “ Circé à la toupie ” (Circe with a top) and in “ Cochon assis au bar à l'éventail ” (Pig sitting in the bar with a fan) .
Other examples of works with animals are tapestries for the headquarters of Caixa Geral de Depósitos with horses, eagles for the centenary of Benfica, cats, sheep and wild boar in the illustrations by Don Quixote. As mentioned above, Júlio Pomar portrayed many animals throughout his career, some of which ended up in the background, represented in an almost carefree way, linked to a domestic environment. Thus, the importance of animals is denoted by their steady presence, over six decades, in his works, from the small individual clay sculptures with monkeys from 1949 to the donkeys playing the guitar from 2010.