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Eusebio Sempere

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 1983

Eusebio Sempere (Onil, Alicante, 1924-1985) began his studies in Valencia, subsequently entering the San Carlos School of Fine Arts.

Thanks to a grant from the French government, he moved to Paris in 1948, where he was to live for ten years.  There he met Chillida, Braque, Hervin, Vasarely and those who would later become the most important contemporary visual artists. In 1950, he took part in the “Salon des Réalites Nouvelles”, at the Paris Museum of Modern Art. The catalogue included, among other artists, Pevsner, Albers, G. Dorfles, S. Delauny, Burri and Kupka. It is in this decade, the 1950’s, that he began a series of gouaches which are the starting point for his subsequent activity. He covered black paper with circles, concentrically distributed using compasses, either blank or filling in these circles with pure colours in gradations of colour. A result of his gouaches are his famous “Relieves luminosos móviles” (Mobile luminous reliefs), which he showed in 1955 in the “Salon des Réalites Nouvelles”.  For this, he published a manifesto on the use of light in visual arts. While working on his gouaches on black paper, he decided to experiment on different superimposed planes of wood, inserting electric light bulbs among them. The result was the construction, in 1954, of luminous closed boxes, through the holes of which –with geometric shapes and coloured with different-coloured plexiglass– the light passed, being switched on and off by a small motor. 

The Parisian work of Eusebio Sempere is not well-known, although the artist was intimately associated with the circles which formed the geometric abstract movement in the 1950’s and with the initiatives through which this reached the public (principally, the exhibitions of the “Salon des Réalites Nouvelles” and of the Denise René Gallery, and the publications of the critics gathered around the magazine “Aujord´hui, arte et arquitecture”). Back in Spain, in 1959 he joined of the Parpalló Group, a cultural movement not limited solely to visual arts, formed, in addition to Sampere, by Aguilera Cerni, Castellano, Genovés, Navarro, Soria and Berenguer, among others. The group undertook the publication of a magazine, first called “Arte vivo” and later “Parpalló”, and began group exhibitions, like the First Joint Exhibition of Spanish Normative Art, or their participation in the VI Biennial of Sao Paulo, in Brazil.

Individually, Sempere showed in London, New York, Paris, Washington, Nuremberg, Grenoble, Spoletto, Lausanne, Tokyo, Berlin, Heidelberg, Madrid, Barcelona and a good few Spanish cities, being present in the most important artistic demonstrations of the contemporary art of the last 30 years. His work was so extensive that it has left its mark in more than 40 European and American museums.  In 1982, he was named a Favoured Son of Alicante, receiving a tribute in the Casa de la Asegurada, where his collection of 20th century art, donated by the artist, is displayed, forming an excellent municipal painting collection.

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