Gabriel Picart was born in the beautiful
Mediterranean city of Barcelona - for anyone not familiar with this
city of ancient culture I recommend Robert Hughes' masterful book
Barcelona. Barcelona is important to Picart's history because it is a
city steeped in deep and rich traditions of artistic achievement - it
was, for example, Picasso's first stop on his road to fame.
Since 1962, the year Picart was born, he has
spent most of his life in the same neighborhood, and, as fate would
have it for a soon-to-be artist, this quarter of the city was perhaps
its most famous. It is the quarter where the world famous Park Güell
is located, and Gabriel's family came to live in a big house adjacent
to the Park's main gate.
The Park is one of the most famous in the world.
It is also one of Barcelona's most important tourist attractions.
Created by the great Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, the Park Güell
was the realization of his utopian vision - he designed the Park at
the beginning of the last century as a new Arcadia, a Paradise on
Appropriately, it would become that for Gabriel.
For over fifty years, Gabriel's family lived in
the concierge's pavilion at the right of the main entrance of the
Park. The original porter, and old friend of Gabriel's
great-grandfather, lived alone in this huge house until he became
disabled. As chance would have it, Gabriel's grandmother sold candy
and sundries next to the front door of the pavilion, and the porter
kept her wares for her overnight in the big house. One day, he invited
her and her family to live with him, and when he became to ill to
execute his duties, Gabriel's grandmother took over the job of
gatekeeper to the Park. Thus Gabriel was born and spent his childhood
in that historically glorious pavilion Gaudi had designed to emulate
the witch's house in Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale Hansel and
Gretel. The Entire Park became Gabriel's playground - it is no wonder
that within an artistic milieu such as this he would soon develop an
interest in art.
Picart always had a pencil in his hand; by the
time he was a teenager, his parents had rented the other pavilion on
the opposite side of the main gate - for $5.00 per month! This
building, with its oddly shaped tower bearing on its top a double
cross (later to become one of Barcelona's main cultural symbols) had
been for many years Gaudi's workshop. In the 1980s, both pavilions and
the Park Güell itself were designated by UNESCO as part of "Mankind's
Heritage". This pavilion was all his to work in as he chose.
In the very same room that Gaudi executed his
designs, Picart set up his first studio. He says that he felt Gaudi's
ghost hovering over his shoulder. Gabriel soon became so addicted to
painting that he gave up a promising career in architecture.
Fortune smiled on Gabriel. Not long after he had
made the decision to become a professional artist, he had the good
luck to meet the famous illustrator Enric Torresprat (who I also
represented, though I did not know Gabriel at the time). Enric invited
Gabriel to visit the studio he shared with the best ink and charcoal
illustrator in Spain, one of the creators of the incomparable
Vampirella, Pepe Gonzalez. Pepe was one of the world's foremost comic
artists - an acknowledged master of the art of drawing, rendering and
composition. By the age of twenty Picart was on his way. The young
Gabriel became the third member of the studio. With the mentoring of
these two great artists, Gabriel soon learned the secrets of drawing
the human figure, as well as techniques of mixing paints, preparing a
canvas, rendering, and the technical application of medium to surface.
Picart's career as an illustrator blossomed; he
worked on commissions throughout Europe. In 1985, I met Gabriel on his
first trip to New York City. He came on a visit with Enric and the
incomparable titan of Spanish illustration, Sanjulian, who I also
represented. Both had recognized Gabriel's particular genius and told
me that if I were smart I would represent this "boy wonder". I did not
hesitate. My company was noted for its ability to
select the best European artists. Our collaboration began, and to my
great pleasure we have been together ever since.
Picart quickly won assignments (no surprise
there!) from all the major publishing houses in America and Canada. He
worked as well for advertising agencies, graphic design firms and
catalogue houses. Art directors clamored for his paintings because he
brought a fine art style to his representational illustrations.
Clients loved his paintings for their simple elegance. He was, in
short, the best commercial artist of his kind that I have ever
represented. From the very beginning of his career here, he was being
compared to none other than Norman Rockwell - Gabriel's great hero.
When the original painting of his first commissioned piece for the US
market was sent to be printed (Friend Monkey, Dell Publishing, 1986),
the printer thought that it was an original Rockwell.
Fine art collectors are aware of the importance
of Picart's training as an illustrator. The demands are at times
almost super-human because the challenges are both technical and
aesthetic. Besides being able to draw, render and paint, the
successful illustrator must be able to communicate directly to the
viewer. For his own part, Picart chose to master the use of oils in
creating his illustrations, in contrast to some of the faster and
easier mediums and techniques available, always with the goal in mind
of parlaying this technical acumen into the painting of fine art.
Though I've never been certain how, Picart found
time to do fine art paintings and began showing his work at the Sala
Parés in Barcelona - a very prestigious gallery. In 1996, he had his
first show at the WolfWalker
Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. This was quickly followed by his
participation in a group show of Catalan artists at Ambassador Gallery
in New York, where he was among some of the leading contemporary
figurative painters working in Spain at that time.
Gabriel Picart was on his way as a studio painter of fine art.
Galleries throughout the US have asked to carry his pictures. As a
result, he no longer accepts illustration commissions; he paints full
Picart is an artist to watch; his work is
destined for museum collections. His paintings are time consuming and
therefore he does not produce a lot, which means that the number of
galleries that can carry his work is limited. Picart's paintings have
attracted special attention of noteworthy critics and collectors, and
they are or have been on display at some of the most recognized
galleries in the US, were they hang with titans of the brush, such as
Chagall, Miró, Dalí and Picasso, and some of the leading contemporary
art found in the world today. At Anderson Galleries in particular, his
paintings have hung with those of Bouguereau, one of Gabriel's
painting heroes. This is a tribute to his exceptional talent.
Most recently, prestigious California publisher
Fingerhut Group has published and distributed limited editions of his
works, popularizing Picart's artwok among a wider variety of