Picasso’s peer steps into the spotlight

Spanish sculptor Baltasar Lobo captured femininity in breathtaking bronze and marble, exhibiting beside Picasso, Matisse and Léger – now his work takes the spotlight at Connaught Brown

L'île du levant bronze, 1981, with green and brown patina, £40,000
L'île du levant bronze, 1981, with green and brown patina, £40,000

The work of 20th-century Spanish sculptor Baltasar Lobo is held in the museums of Paris, Madrid, Prague and Tokyo, yet surprisingly remains under-the-radar in the UK. Now a selling exhibition at the fine art gallery Connaught Brown (June 1-30) puts the artist in the spotlight. “We hope to introduce Lobo to a whole new generation of collectors,” says gallery director Anthony Brown. “As a pivotal name in European sculpture it is somewhat surprising that his work is not better known outside France and Spain.”

Femme avec queue de cheval, 1970, price on request
Femme avec queue de cheval, 1970, price on request
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On show are 12 limited edition works – priced from £10,000 to £250,000 – charting Lobo’s evolving style in bronze and marble. The sculptor led a colourful life and fled to Paris in 1939 after the Spanish civil war, joining an artistic circle that included Pablo Picasso, Henri Laurens, Jacques Lipchitz and Joan Miró. He took a pared-down approach to the human form and focused on female figures and mother-with-child themes. Inspired by the Parisian art scene of the 1940s and 1950s, he constantly explored the relationship between figurative forms and abstraction, while modernist characteristics such as Jean Arp’s organic shapes, Fernand Léger’s geometric figures and Constantin Brancusi’s crisp precision influenced his work. Inspiration also came from stylised female forms in early Cycladic sculpture, with tropes such as folded arms, gently sloping shoulders and undefined facial features evident in his art.

Sur la Plage, 2e état, 1975-1978, edition of eight, £55,000
Sur la Plage, 2e état, 1975-1978, edition of eight, £55,000
Maternité, Esquisse Caracas, sur socle, 1986, edition of eight, £90,000
Maternité, Esquisse Caracas, sur socle, 1986, edition of eight, £90,000

The poetic elegance of Lobo’s women, with their harmonious, undulating curves and tranquil presence is emphasised by the smooth surfaces of his materials. Many, such as the white marble Jeune fille assise, mains croisées (a unique piece priced on request), evoke a calm, meditative quality. Others, like the curvaceous bronze Sur la Plage, 2e état (edition of eight, £55,000), and highly abstracted Maternité, Esquisse Caracas, sur socle (edition of eight, £90,000), suggest playfulness. Femme mains au dos (edition of eight, £20,000), meanwhile, adopts an elegant dancer’s pose, while the gorgeous Torse à Genoux (edition of eight, £90,000) is reminiscent of an attenuated Modigliani. Sensual, alluring and uplifting, this show provides Baltasar Lobo and the women he captured in his work their chance to steal the limelight.

Jeune fille assise, mains croisées, 1976, price on request
Jeune fille assise, mains croisées, 1976, price on request
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