Esteban Vicente arrived in Barcelona at the end of 1930 after a first stay in Paris. He believed that the art scene in Barcelona was more European so he decided to settle in the city for a time. It was in Barcelona where he started to draw and paint from nature. Esteban Vicente did not consider drawing a medium that could be used to perceive reality but as a tool to analyse it, examine it, explore it… he was seeking the character of the form, of the plastic object.
In this regard, this small but exquisite drawing shows the Plaza Real of Barcelona, built by Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó during the middle of the 19th century. Using short but firm strokes, Esteban Vicente delineates the elegance of this porticoed square enhanced by slender palm trees and inhabited by sketched groups of men who – attired with their all-important hats – made conversation.
This work reveals a great draughtsman, who produces firm, elegant and light strokes.
It is worthwhile considering the way in which a photographer and a painter portray the same urban landscape. A postcard of the time shows exactly the same scene, with very small variations, as if they had both been “portraying” it at the same time.
When analysing that photograph and Esteban’s sketch the intention of the artist is clear: simply to capture the scene, the atmosphere, without entering into all the details; he only draws what interests him, does not finish the architecture of the square or represent any other human types, what he has shown is enough to perceive the mood of a square that is alive, “less is more”, insinuating is enough.