NEWS

The Goya Museum in Castres will open up its doors with a considerable retrospective: /Mentor or the Time Mirror/ (from November 15 to January 17.2010).

Even if Mentor's works were featured in numerous and prestigious events all along his career; even if they are to be found in both public and private collections throughout the world, this exhibition at the Goya Museum is nonetheless the first one to host such a wide scope of his works since the artist died in 2003.

Nearly 70 works will be displayed, some of them having never been shown before: paintings, sculptures, drawings, lithographs and art objects.

Goya Museum

mentor

Mentor was born in Barcelona in november 1919. It's in the Fine Arts Academy of his hometown that he carried out brilliant studies in painting and obtained the Silver Medal in 1933 and 1934, just like Picasso before him. As he had joined the Republican Armies from 1936 to 1939, he had to flee from Franco's dictatorship and find shelter in France. Neige, his muse and lifelong companion, received him in her home, nursed him and spared him deportation. Together, they settled in Solliès-Toucas. On a hillside of this lovely village in Var, year after year, they built an extraordinary house and a beautiful garden, a true jewel box for her beauty. In the same time, Mentor worked in his studio of the Impasse de la Grange aux Belles.

In 1953, in Paris, he gets the Drawing Prize and the Critics' Prize. Then, for the whole of his work, he is given the «  Painters, Witnesses of their Time » Prize, in 1966. The following year, he is granted a series of prizes in Montrouge. Then, in 1968, in La Courneuve, he is rewarded for an oil 400 square-meter « mural » painting dedicated to the epic theme of « the Conquest of Happiness ». In the same year, Mentor is nominated « off competition » to the Critics' Prize, with a special « Honours » distinction bestowed on him unanimously. In 1974, he is the only painter to be chosen for the opening exhibition of the international art center « Artcurial », just before becoming « Ambrogino d'Oro » in Milan. In 1976, he receives the Seal of the Town of Milan for a fresco, the largest in Europe, painted on a wall of the Tourism and Labour Union building of this town. Since 1977, Mentor's work has been presented all over the world. Exhibitions take place in France ( Musée de Saint-Denis, Musée Bourdelle ), in Italy, in Spain, in Ivory Coast, in the United States and in Japan.

Since the very beginning of his career, Mentor's critical record has been outstanding. Supported by the greatest, George Besson, Pierre Descargues, Waldemar George, Jean Rollin, Raymond Coignat, Jean Paul Crespelle, Maurice Tassart, Raymond Charmet, Mentor has been « anointed » «  Chevalier des Arts et Lettres ».

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Though Mentor has chosen France as his place of residence and work, he has never forgotten Spain. His art testifies to that. The humour he develops is grating, his baroque shapes display the strange colours of Spanish fiestas. Mentor's painting is one of those you can identify easily, because it looks so much like him. Instinctively monumental, just like him, it can be grave, whimsical, smooth, imposing, sensuous, spititual, tragic, rich, cultured, always humane. The portraits, the sceneries, the still lives, the large compositions, everything is a pretext to deal with Man, with his feelings of bliss and anguish. His themes often develop with Woman as an anchorage point : the eternal « Painter and His Model », but also « Bullfighting », « The Circus », « Divertimento », « Carnival With a Bird », « The Concertists », « The Feniche » ... In Mentor's works, the composition looks easy, obvious, always constructed. It has obviously been nurtured by the Masters' teachings at great length. The pictorial matter, all along the years, solidly structured, thick, supple, opulent or vaporous, is never gratuitous. Sober or bright, always subtle, the colour is always assertive, always true.

With the practice of sculpture, moulding or assembling, Mentor keeps extending his unperturbable quest for a personal transcription of reality. He interrogates the forms that surround him, but, tirelessly questions the reality he invents, too. For us, Mentor creates a sensitive, singular, and, however, familiar universe, a superb and imposing plastic equivalence of the world, our world.

Mentor and Neige have donated to the Borough of Solliès-Toucas their amazing workshop-house perched on the mountainside and an important part of the Mentor Collection. That donation has just been completed by Neige's posthumous legacy : an exceptional set of paintings, sculptures and objets d'art.

The Mentor Foundation and his Museum, sponsored by the Academy of Fine Art, artplanned to be located in Solliès-Toucas. This extraordinary site should become an important place of culture and tourism.

Isabelle ROLLIN-ROYER