The artist Ramón Nadal Horrach (Palma de Mallorca, 1913-1999) is an undeniable model of post-impressionist painting and also a master of artists in the Balearic paintings of the 20th century. Despite his serious demeanour, serene gaze, inherent elegance and social elusiveness, he became a genius in his own right. He lived by and for painting, and nothing and no one could stop him from his purpose in life: to create art at the highest level.
His father, Mr. Jacinto Nadal, a man of exquisite culture and copious worldly knowledge, found out about his son’s talent and aptitude for drawing and visual arts which, later on, with dedication, discipline and the course of time, would turn him into a distinguished master of art. Subsequently, the young Ramón Nadal enrolled at the School of Arts and Crafts in Palma de Mallorca, where two of his teachers were great references of the Majorcan landscape painting: Lorenzo Cerdà and Francisco Rosselló, two painters of academic nature, bathed in the fountain of impressionism. Later, once he acquired the technical skills he needed in order to pursue the beautiful art of painting, he met his most influential mentor and advisor, the great and famous Argentinian painter who settled in Mallorca after returning from Paris: Francisco Bernareggi.
Ramón Nadal held his first exhibition at the age of thirteen at the “Salón de La Veda” and his imminent success in both criticism and sales was such that he did not stop painting and exhibiting his works until his death in 1999. He shared the bill with the most important artists of the time: Anglada Camarasa, Francisco Bernareggi, Tito Cittadini, Eliseo Meifrén, Roberto Ramaugé, Antoni Gelabert, Lorenzo Cerdà, etc.
Ramón Nadal’s success may possibly lie in his honesty and also his tenacious desire for self-improvement. Above all, we are talking about a serious painter who committed himself exclusively to his art, avoiding any external interference. One example of this is that he always shunned competitions and contests as he considered that they deprived him of painting. On the other hand, his self-demand for iron discipline, constancy and eagerness to improve led him to the Olympus of art creators. His canvases reached the highest levels of beauty and splendour. For Ramón Nadal’s work is above all beautiful and colossal. His vivid landscapes of dense and manly texture depict the island’s nature, wild and arrogant, manifesting all its power.
In spite of his extremely delicate treatment of figures and portraits —an example of this are his fascinating gypsy women reminiscent of Nonell—, and with perfect harmony in his still lifes, what most defines his painting is the undoubted “exaltation of nature”, with its forms and places, captured with an unusual force. His line is firm, courageous, energetic, and decisive, and his colour palette covers a seemingly infinite range due to his absolute chromatic knowledge. Faithful to his technical skills, his serenity and his sensitivity, Ramón Nadal succeeds in transforming a country bush with two stubble fields along the edge of an untravelled road into a majestic landscape with an immense wealth of shades.
As a great artist, and maintaining the noble customs of the impressionist and modernist painters, the artist Ramón Nadal was never a studio painter inspired by sketches and pictures; in this sense he worked in the same way as his predecessors did: plein air, setting up his easel among the narrow rocks of the Serra de Tramuntana, or surrounded by grass, branches and weeds under old olive trees and tangled prickly pear cacti.
According to his chromatic varieties, some critics have classified him into different phases; however, Ramón Nadal —a master in constant experimentation— did not always follow a linear evolution. At some point along the way, and always seeking the grandiloquent beauty of the present moment, he never had a problem with recreating the techniques and style of his previous stages.
As a rough guide, we could consider that his first stage, which lasted from his youth until about 1940, was marked by the influence of academicism and his immersion in Noucentisme. From 1942 to the mid-1950s he evolved along a post-impressionist line in which he avidly broadened his extensive colour palette with a preference for greens and blues, applying a brush-stroke with prominent depth. And from the mid-fifties until the end of his life, his main characteristic was a change of tool; he replaced the brush with a palette knife, impregnating his canvases with a more powerful stroke, and in turn his oil paint’s texture took on an unusual volume and density. The relief of the oil paste on the canvas is matched only by two other great artists of Balearic landscape painting: Ferrán Arasa and Bernardino Celià. Ramón Nadal’s landscapes take on a manly voluptuousness that traps the spectator and sends them into the abyss of a cliff. His work becomes a deep, intense, massive show, like Brückner’s or Mahler’s symphonies.
Despite being somewhat stage fright, shy of the spotlight and dismissive of awards and recognition, in 1952 he was awarded the Medal of Honour of the Círculo de Bellas Artes of Palma de Mallorca, the single prize for the fiftieth anniversary of the Mallorcan Tourist Board (1955), the title of Full Academician of the Royal Academy of San Sebastián of Palma de Mallorca (1964) and the “Ciutat de Palma” Prize in 1973, awarded by the city council. Ramón Nadal’s legacy is fortunately extensive and is represented in distinguished institutions and art galleries.
Ramón Nadal was above all a truthful and honest artist, who knew how to capture the beauty of his land with sensitivity and wisdom, and express it with love and passion in each one of his canvases.
Damián Verger Garau
Legal Expert in Art and Antiques and Art Critic