London, Marlborough Gallery, David Bomberg 1890- 1957: Drawings and
1967, possibly cat no. 2, not illus
Following a sixth month visit to Russia and with a desire for new beginnings, in May 1934 Bomberg travelled for the second time to Spain, a trip made possible by the financial support of three Bradford-based collectors.
After residing for a short period in Cuenca in the north, he subsequently migrated south, to Ronda. Here he encountered a place he later described as ‘the most interesting of the towns of Southern Spain.’ 1 Perched on a plateau of rock, divided by a gorge carrying the Guadalevín River and surrounded by the Andalucian mountains, Ronda provided a spectacularly dramatic setting from which Bomberg drew boundless inspiration.
Bomberg explored the area on a donkey in search of suitable vantage points from which he could work directly from the landscape. Leaning against a tree trunk, he would spend a prolonged period contemplating the scene, before propping up a canvas or handmade paper pinned to a board and energetically setting to work. This was to be a highly productive period for Bomberg, during which he produced a series of bold landscapes, including the present work and a closely related painting entitled Evening, The Old City and Cathedral, Ronda, 1935.
Unlike his Toledo period, where he focused mainly on painting, in Ronda Bomberg ‘resumed drawing on an ambitious scale’ and, far from being sketches or studies for oils, his drawings in pencil and charcoal were intended as independent works in their own right. Although throughout his career Bomberg utilised both modes of art making, he asserted: ‘I am draughtsman first and painter second.’ 2
Indeed, the heavy, deftly applied interlocking strokes of charcoal which delineate the forms in this work, point towards a confident mastery of the medium. Lighter areas of finger-rubbed charcoal convey shade, giving the forms a palpable sense of three dimensionality, while other areas of untouched paper give a real impression of falling light. The present work wonderfully encapsulates his belief that, ‘Drawing is handling structure through chariscurio (sic) force. Drawing is sculpturally conceived in the full like architecture.’ 3
1 Richard Cork, David Bomberg, Yale University Press, London, p207
2 The artist quoted in David Bomberg, The Later Years, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1979, unpaginated