The Portuguese artist's animal paintings Júlio Pomar

As pinturas de animais do artista português Júlio Pomar

Júlio Pomar: the Artist of Figuration

Júlio Pomar was one of the artists with the greatest impact on the Portuguese arts of the 20th century, since the beginning of his career. Committed to social problems, he began in the neo-realism artistic movement, which resumed the aesthetic and social attitude of 19th century realism, simultaneously demonstrating the new concerns of the 20th 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 — as Paula Rego — whose figuration, not only human, is the main theme. Many were the animals portrayed byJúlio 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 lobo, the goat and the goat, the seagull and the fly. In this article we will approach how these were represented in the different artistic typologies.


Júlio Pomar | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Art PlatformHammer and three fruits inJúlio Pomar1991-2002


Júlio Pomar among the animals

First, in an abstract movement, between 1960 and 1966, we have the bullfighting cycle, which according to Alexandre Pomar: "emerged, with the diversity of their various thematic topics, as a more emblematic series, to the horse races already painted in Paris, where Pomar moved in 1963. In them, the reading of a problem of the movement 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 in the way that builds its own space."


Júlio Pomar | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Art Platform

blue tiger inJúlio Pomar


Between 1978 and 1982, the charm ofJúlio Pomar by the tigers, due to the invitation of Joaquim Vital to illustrate the translated edition blue tigers, by Jorge Luis Borges. In this tale the tiger is never seen, only its footprints appear daily, however the painter decided to represent these felines as the main theme, occupying a frontal or profile position.In the 1980s, crows appeared, linked to the poets of Lisbon on the tiles of the Metropolitano de Estação Altos dos Moinhos. This animal, capable of speaking, has great symbology for the city of Lisbon, as it is part of its coat of arms. Furthermore, it became for Fernando Pessoa andJúlio Pomar in a poetic device.

“Saint Vincent, it is proven, entered the Tagus on a sailing corpse under the guard of two crows... soon in coexistence... But, although with one or another detour to unwind, in the neighborhoods of the capital it is that the crows made life. Pátio do Corvo, in São Vicente de Fora, Rua dos Corvos, to the Stairs of Santo Estêvão, Terreiro do Corvo, in the Cathedral. It is a legend of Lisbon.” - José Cardoso Saucer.


Júlio Pomar | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Art Platform

cook monkey inJúlio Pomar


The following decade is marked by paintings and serigraphs of the four monkeys, performing human activities, such as cooking. These works can be approached practically as an ironic self-portrait or a pictorial satire on the activities that humans carry out on a daily basis. In the summer of 1992, the artist started the series “L'Année du Cochon” (The Year of the Pig), because that year is celebrated in the Chinese calendar the year of the pig. Júlio Pomar said: "Several events overlapped. First, my old attraction for the animal... At that time, I smoked two or three packs a day and I took to decorating my mythological characters with cigarettes, which I would put between their fingers or in the corner of their mouth. So I had to include The Harm of Tobacco in the Year of the Pig.” Later, they appear again in connection with the Odyssey episode concerning Circe's temptations and works such as “Circe à la toupie” (Circe with a spinning top) and in “Cochon assis au bar à l'eventail” (Pig sitting on bar with fan).


Júlio Pomar | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Art Platform
Little pig in Júlio Pomar

Other examples of works with animals are the tapestries for the headquarters of Caixa Geral de Depósitos with horses, the eagles for the centenary of Benfica, the cats, sheep and wild boars in the illustrations of Don Quixote. As we mentioned earlier,Júlio Pomar he 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.The importance of animals is thus denoted by their firm presence, over six decades, in his works, from the small individual clay sculptures with monkeys from 1949 to the donkeys playing the viola from 2010.


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