"Probably, objects are there to give testimony of the traces of people, completely obssessed and alienated by them. They take their place because, as it is said, he is lost. They try to tell about a man's little things, and about a man's great passions, about his obssession and anxieties, about his insignificant pleasures and his ambitions ..."
EUGENIO ESTRADA.("Los árboles no dejan ver el bosque." - "Can't see the forest for the trees")
Eugenio Estrada was born in Cubillas de Rueda (León, Spain) in summer 1935. His first years pass in the countryside. His childhood gave him smells, colors, the texture of wood, its robustness, its grooves ... all of these sensations which show up in his art.
A few years ago, he bought an aerial photograph showing the houses and fields of Cubillas. He had it put in a frame and gave it a priviledged place in his studio. This way, every time he started a new painting, he could see an image of his roots, a memory of his origins.
Eugenio remembers his early vocation towards art in the following way:
"I clearly remember my interest in painting and coloring, in filling with images all the notebooks I could get; this is one of the shining memories I keep from the years I lived in my town. I'd say more, my sight and attention were centeterd to a great extent in the elements and activities of the countryside: all that craftwork of vital urgency related to reparing equipment and tools, related to the making of adobe and canvas, of the iron gates for the vegetable garden, etc. These experiences are quite present, with no doubt, in all my plastic creation.
After finishing his secondary studies, and already living in León, he begun to take part in the chats taking place in the cultural environment of the city, chats which provided him contacts with writers (Victoriano Crémer, Gamoneda, ...) and painters. To begin his education as a painter he attended classes at Demetrio Monteserín's studio, where most of the previous generation painters in León had studied. He completed his education with Modesto Llamas y Petra Hernández.
After these first steps, he was seeking an education of an academic type, and he enters in the Higher School of Fine Arts of Saint Ferdinand in Madrid (nowadays the university School of Fine Arts) in July 1958, studying there and obtaining:
- In 1960, the "Fundación Molina Higueras" drawing prize, awarded by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Ferdinand of Madrid.
- In 1962, the "Fundación Rodríguez Acosta" landscape grant, awared by the Higher School of Fine Arts of Saint Ferdinand of Madrid. This award allows him to live in Granada for that year's summer.
In 1962, he exhibits his work as a consequence of his awards: in the exhibition room of the Fundación Rodríguez Acosta in Granada; and in the Higher School of Fine Arts of Saint Ferdinand in Madrid.
"I have always thought of formal studies at the Academy as something positive and important, setting the basis for drawing."
-states Eugenio Estrada
-"Quite a different subject is that the academic education sometimes anathemitizes any representation of avant-garde we may know"
During his studies, he travels arround Provence in France - where he could contemplate Cézanne's art-, and Munich, with the intention of knowing other artistic trends. He also travels to Switzerland, Italy and Egipt.
Once he brightly finished his studies, on 10 July 1963, he travels to Colombia, where he stays for around two years.
During those years, he teaches Art History at the Architecture School of the National University of Colombia in Medellin; at the Higher Academy of Arts in Medellin; and at the Arts and Decoration School at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana.
He also takes part in several individual exhibition:
- June 1964, at the Hermes Gallery in Medellin.
- March 1965, at the home of the Colombian-French Alliance in Medellin.
- Februabry 1966, at the Picasso Gallery in Medellin (assignment of twelve oil paintings about historical-artistic monuments in Colombia). This exhibition started once he had already left for Spain.
"It is clear that the time I lived in Colombia influenced in my evolution as a painter. On the one hand, the American expressionism leads me to get interested in matter and paste, interest which I compare to the material informalism of Tàpies and Millares back in Spain. On the other hand, the fact I taught Contemporary Art classes made me thoroughly analize the avant-garde."
During the time he works teaching, he saves some money with the intent of moving to one of the world cities with large cultural activity. He actually thinks of New York or Paris. After discarding New York, he starts focusing in setting his studio in Paris. He first stops in Spain to stay with his family and friends. But he never restarts the travel. The lost dream of Paris is reflected in a painting-summary of his life: "Tempus fugit".
After moving to León, he takes part in the group exhibition of the Third Fall Exhibition at the exhibition room of the Excelentísima Diputación Provincial of León, in November 1965.
In 1966 he moves to Madrid and places his studio in downtown.
He starts working as a teacher during the academic year 1966-1967, at the Instituto Nacional de Enseñanzas Medias of Vitoria.
The following academic years (1967-1968 and 1968-1969), he teaches at the Secondary School in Castro-Urdiales.
During the academic year 1968-1970 he gets a position as professor of Drawing at a Secondary School in Ferrol.
After that, he is appointed as the principal of the Secondary School in Sestao (1970-1971, 1972-1973).
It is during this period in Vizcaya that he collaborates with the Educational Sciences Institute at the University of Bilbao. There, he gives several seminars on aesthetics, artistic expression and creativity.
Regarding these years, he says: "Though my goal in returning from Colombia was travelling to Paris and live as a painter, different reasons lengthen my staying in Madrid, and after two years I was again painting and teaching. The latter provides me with technicality in my production and contributes to broaden my fields of interest."
"I believe that children attitude shown through their paintings makes me insist more and more in that which is essential, fundamental, magical and misterious. I feel I have entered in a depuration process where I am interested in the spontaneity of gestures, the intervention of the whole body in the act of painting - in a dancing rythm -, to completely involve in the game of working with materials and color which contribute to visualize life experiences and the whole range of moods".
In summer 1996, Eugenio Estrada died shortly after inaugurating his last paintings in an exhibition in Zaragoza.
In summer 2000 most of his work was displayed in an anthological exhibition in the Camón Aznar Museum in Zaragoza.
Recently, from 11 October through 24 November 2002, a retrospective exhibition took place in the Sala Provincia in the Edificio "Fierro" in Leon, organized by the Department of Art and Exhibitions of the Leon Institute of Culture.