"A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE", by Herb Spiers
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 earth.
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 time.
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.