The Gustavo de Maeztu Museum presents its temporary exhibition “Retana Centenary: Estella in his painting”.

The Gustavo de Maeztu Museum presents the exhibition “Retana Centenary: Estella in his painting”

From 3 May to 30 June 2024, the Gustavo de Maeztu Museum is holding an exhibition in the temporary exhibition hall dedicated to the work of Florentino Fernández de Retana to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the artist from Alava, who has close ties to the town of Estella-lizarra.

He is a well-known artist in the Navarrese pictorial environment as he lived in Navarre since 1948. Born in Vitoria in 1924, he spent the first twenty-five years of his life in his native city, where he started out in the world of art and painting.

He trained at the School of Arts and Crafts in that city and in Adrián Aldecoa’s workshop, where he learned the trade of painter-decorator.

He took part in the first group exhibitions organised in Vitoria in the mid-1940s. He took part in the 1st Exhibition of Painting by New Artists from Alava, in October 1944, and in the 1st Exhibition of Works by the Peña de Pintores del Casino Artista Vitoriano, in 1945. The following year, in November 1946, while he was doing his military service, he held his first individual exhibition at the Bar Flor in Huesca, where he repeated the experience in the same place twelve months later.

A photograph from that first exhibition shows Retana’s interest in portraiture, a genre that would not be very common in his later career. Although portraits, still lifes and flowers are themes that he dealt with on more than one occasion in his works, they do not have the continuity of the landscape theme, the discipline favoured by most of the post-war painters of Álava.

In 1947 he moved to Estella, where he began to work as an industrial painter. He lived in Estella for more than thirty years, and his reputation as a painter became widely known and appreciated.

His first studio was in the building that today houses our Museum, in the Palace of the Kings of Navarre, surrounded by the paintings of Gustavo de Maeztu; his second and most productive studio came when he acquired the “El Pedregal” estate, inseparable both for him and for his art, which witnessed an important part of his artistic production for more than forty years.

In 1956 he was awarded third prize in the “XIII Certamen de Arte Alavés” (13th Alavese Art Competition). This prize was the first of a long list of awards that lasted until 1974, the year in which he decided not to take part in any more competitions.

During these years he held numerous exhibitions in various cities such as Madrid, Logroño, Pamplona, San Sebastián and Zaragoza.

During this time he was a member of the “Pajarita” group of painters from Alava. A simple group with no philosophical approach, united by their love of painting. They held several exhibitions in cities such as Logroño, Bilbao, Vitoria… with the one dedicated to the painter Gustavo de Maeztu in Estella in 1964 standing out.

In 1973 he exhibited in the André Weil gallery in Paris, his first international exhibition, where he showed his landscape oil paintings of Navarre. On his return he exhibited in Pamplona, where the Museum of Navarre acquired works for its collection.

He continued with exhibitions in Spanish cities such as Valladolid, Sangüesa, Bilbao, among others.

In 1988, an anthological exhibition was organised at the Casa de Cultura Fray Diego in Estella, showing Retana’s work with its artistic essence and evolution.

After this exhibition, he painted works of Spanish landscapes such as the Mills of Alcázar de San Juan, the volcanic coast of Cabo de Gata, the desert of Almería, the Catalan Pyrenees…

Numerous exhibitions during the last years of his artistic production spread throughout Spain in cities such as Pamplona, Cuenca, Barcelona, among others.

Finally, he moved to Pamplona and Barañain, where he lived the last years of his life.

Most of Retana’s pictorial production was produced in Navarre. He travelled around the lands of Navarre with his brushes, as he did in the rest of Spain, taking his work and his canvases as far as Paris.

The exhibition that can be seen at the Gustavo de Maeztu Museum from 3 May brings together a significant selection of Retana’s works whose iconographic protagonist is the town of Estella-Lizarra, to which Retana was vitally and sentimentally linked. This commitment led him to create a gallery of works in which he recreates images, corners and views of the town of Estella-Lizarra, thus becoming an aesthetic chronicler of the town, through suggestive, colourful and expressive works that have perpetuated the aesthetic imaginary of this town full of heritage and beauty

This exhibition of Retana’s work is intended as a tribute to the artist on the first centenary of his birth, it is also a clear homage to Carmen Lobo, his wife, companion and mother of his three children, fundamental pieces in Retana’s life journey. But at the same time it is a tribute to the town of Estella-Lizarra, which welcomed him and with which he forged perennial emotional and affective ties.

The exhibition on display at the Museo Gustavo de Maeztu is an in-house production produced with the invaluable collaboration of the Retana family and offers us works from the artist’s different periods in which everything revolves around the image of the town of Estella-Lizarra captured in Retana’s thick, powerful strokes. The great intensity of his strokes, the powerful colouring and the density of the material stand out.

Retana’s creations express feelings and passion, they are the result of an acute creative spirit, of an inner world that he unfolds through his landscapes of irrepressible colour and impastoed forms. Retana is overwhelmed by his intense and passionate feeling for the landscape, for the countryside and the villages that are reflected in an absolutely personal way in his works. His painting is colour, his painting is expression, his painting is authenticity.

Admission to this exhibition is free and it can be visited from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:30 to 13:30 and from 16:00 to 19:30; Sundays and public holidays, from 11:00 to 14:00.