Biography and Works of Ramón Zuriarrain

Ramón Zuriarrain

Ramón Zuriarrain Cortázar was born in San Sebastián in 1948. He started in the artistic world by attending the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid in the mid-sixties, when he was an architecture student. His interest in painting led him to the Paris School of Fine Arts in 1968, where he was able to learn the artistic fundamentals and put them into practice.

Back in his hometown he starts a friendship with the painter Vicente Ameztoy, who introduces him to the Basque art scene of the moment and guides him in pictorial creation. Together with him, Carlos Sanz and Marta Cárdenas he exhibited at the San Telmo Museum in 1970. These artists, compared to those of the previous generation that of the group Gaur they are inclined towards a figurative painting, in keeping with the spirit of social commitment dominant in the Basque Country in those years. In the case of Zuriarrain, figuration is mixed with surrealist resonances, as reflected in the work Transformation, belonging to the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao.

In 1971 he participated in the exhibition Contemporary Spanish art, which was held in Paris, and in 1973 he organized his first solo exhibition at the El Pez Gallery in San Sebastian. Also that year he received the Grand Prix of Basque Painting.

During the eighties there was a transformation in Zuriarrain's painting, which approaches informalist abstraction, especially in landscapes, where the painter identifies with nature, this being one of his most recurring themes, although not the only one. His landscapes are sensory and with an abstract appearance, although they have been taken from nature. They arise from a supposed chance through green, blue, ochre, sienna and red spots that generate unexpected shapes. Color organizes the pictorial space and becomes the main protagonist, regardless of the objects and the theme of the work.

Through the mediation of the photographer, filmmaker and writer Rax Rinnekangas, Zuriarrain travels to Finland in 1987, where he stays for three months. This stay provokes a new metamorphosis in his painting, becoming more reflective and essential in forms and colors. The artist's creative restlessness moves towards the genesis of painting and its expressive possibilities. At the same time, watercolor became a regular technique for him, with suggestive compositions in which the brush strokes are delicately distributed on the paper. This Finnish period is accompanied by an intense international exhibition activity.
Alongside his landscape daydreams and as a counterpoint, Zuriarrain often makes interesting portraits, self-portraits and interior scenes with a narrative background. A good example are the drawings and watercolors he made during his stay in Egypt with his son Martín, such as personal chronicles of the 2011 revolution. A constant throughout his career have been humor and irony, which he uses in small drawings and objects of quick execution as notes of opinion or jokes about reality.

His career has always been dominated by an idea of change, transformation and accelerated time. In his works a continuous sum and struggle of figuration-abstraction, straight-curved, water-earth opposites is evident, within a process of unfinished appearance. His artistic references fluctuate between the admiration he has felt since he was young for Albrecht Dürer and Dutch painting, the impressionism of Claude Monet and the expressionism of Georg Baselitz.

Text: Arantxa Pereda

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