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Sansó’s images of Brittany

For 24 summers, the Le Dantec family, publishers of Ouest France, the largest newspaper in France at that time, invited Filipino-Spanish artist Juvenal Sansó to visit them at their house in Brittany, a peninsula situated in the northwest of France. Because of his visits, Mr. Sansó painted scenes of Brittany from the 1960s to the 2000s.

A collection of “Sansó’s Brittany” paintings, including never before seen works, is currently on view until Feb. 11 at Galerie Joaquin at Power Plant Mall in Makati City.

The artist’s visits to Brittany were the result of his friendship with the Rouault family — Yves le Dantec was a son in law of Georges Rouault.

“For over 22 years, I would go to their house on the coast and they helped me ever so gently but efficiently to feel and understand a world so different from my visual past.  It took me two years of just staring at the sea and the changing tides, and the rose granite rocks,” Mr. Sansó wrote in an essay about his Brittany experience.

“I simply could not paint. I had to digest it first and filter it. If the friendship faltered or ceased, I would have developed an inner path to Brittany. This landscape was so beautiful. I felt I did not deserve it. I had no language to express it yet,” he added.

The exhibit shows the transition from the early stages of the Brittany series to his most recent. The collection was acquired by Galerie Joaquin during its two-decade partnership with the artist since 2003.

Among highlights are 12 works from 1960s sketchbooks which Mr. Sansó classified as “AA” (“really good”). The series shows close paintings of waves crashing on the rocks.

“He would sketch details on how the water crashed against the rocks, how the wind affects the waves, how the light changes as the time goes by,” Fundacion Sansó curator and director Ricky Francisco told BusinessWorld at the exhibition opening on Feb. 3.

Painted in olive and brown, the landscapes done in the 1970s and 1980s were the more popular of the Brittany series.

Mr. Francisco said that it was in this period when Mr. Sanso started exploring and “making his own imaginary landscape” and included the breadth of the coast in his paintings.

Then in the 1990s and 2000s, the works evolved to be more imaginary, with a combination of yellow and green rocks with vegetation, and the sea at the background.

“Brittany was his expression of gratitude to the Le Dantec [family]… Aside from being a place where he healed himself from the trauma of war, it was a [place of] human interaction between [the artist and] Le Dantec,” Mr. Francisco said.

“Sansó’s Brittany” is on display until Feb. 11 at Galerie Joaquin Rockwell. For more information, visit www.galeriejoaquin.com. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman