Pórtico, c. 1905
Oil on canvas. 200,5 x 276 cm
Ever fascinated by social realism and popular scenes, Arteta played a central role in reconciling tradition and avant-garde in Basque art prior to the Spanish Civil War. Also a draughtsman and illustrator, he moved to Paris in 1902 with sculptor Quintín de Torre, with whom he travelled around Italy in 1906. He was associated with the novecento group that evolved around the Hermes art journal and was director of the Bilbao Museum of Modern Art from its creation in 1924 until 1936, the year he went into exile, first in the French Basque Country and finally in Mexico.
The sheer size of Portico (oil on canvas, 200.5 x 276 cm) made treatment of the painting especially complex. The stretcher was fractured in several places and needed to be repaired to function properly. The thick layer of paint generally needed to be fixed in place using an organic adhesive and suction systems applied from the back of the painting. When the dirt and oxidized varnish were cleaned off, the original modelling anf colouring of this ambitious work were revealed. To round off treatment, tiny paint losses were restored and a protective varnish applied.