Gorki Bollar

Portrait of Gorki Bollar 1983 (door Clemens Boon)

Gorki Bollar was born in 1944 in Montevideo, Uruguay, into a strict Catholic family. He developed a certain religious fanaticism which, in his boyhood, turned into a fascination for history, mythology, literature and music. At the age of 16 he visited a museum exhibition on constructivist art where the paintings of the universal artist Joaquim Torres-Garcia (1874-1949) made an overwhelming impression on him. He decided to become a painter and apprenticed to Torres. Torres was the founder of Latin American constructivism (multi-disciplinary spatial art with a socially critical objective) and based on this orientation he had founded an academy where artists of various backgrounds worked together and coached each other in an attempt to integrate the different artistic directions and expressions. Individual expression was subordinate to collective ideals.

Landscape with knight 1989, Acrylic on panel 31×27 cm

Bollar attended the weekly painting and sculpture classes of José Gurvich (Lithuania 1927-New York 1974) at this academy from 1960 to 1963. Gurvich soon discovered Bollar’s talent as a naive painter and advised him to follow his own artistic path.

During these years, Bollar became friends with his fellow students Armando Bergallo (painter, sculptor and collagist), Hector Vilche (painter, sculptor and cinematographer) and Clara Scremini (ceramics and glass art). In 1963 the four founded the constructivist workshop “Taller de Montevideo”.

The hunter. Cazador de St. Mismo 1989, Acrylic on panel 48×38 cm

In 1966 the group was invited by the Dutch Ministry of Culture for a visit to the Netherlands, where their work was shown in a group exhibition at the renowned Galerie Nouvelles Images in The Hague. Subsequently, the artists’ group settled in London for a few years. In 1970 three of the four members returned to the Netherlands. Bollar stayed behind in England to work on the development of style and craftsmanship on his own, without feeling bound by any stylistic agreement. During his English years he had several exhibitions and he received a lot of artistic recognition.

The joy of the return is in the music they hear 1987, Collage 34×40 cm

At the invitation of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Bollar left for the Netherlands in 1976 and joined his artistic friends who had meanwhile renamed themselves “Taller Amsterdam”. Bollar has always lived in Amsterdam and obtained the Dutch nationality in 1985. Until his death in 2015, he had a large number of exhibitions in the Netherlands, Europe and the Americas.

Bollar’s work radiates loneliness, alienation and melancholy in a dreamy atmosphere. One of his favorite themes is the epic poem The Odyssey in which Homer describes the ten-year wanderings of Odysseus, king of Ithaca. It is tempting to see a parallel here to Bollar’s own quest for artistic identity and a ‘home to live in’. Should he be qualified as self-taught, constructivist, naive, or perhaps surrealist?

He and his companians had landed on the shores of Thrace 1989, Acrylic on paper 20×22 cm

Exhibitions in the period 1970-2000: The Netherlands (The Hague 3x, Amsterdam 26x, Rotterdam 2x, Amersfoort 3x, Velp, Zutphen, Rijswijk 2x, Lochem, Maassluis and Maastricht), England (Nottingham and London 7x), United States (Chicago and New York 2x), France (Paris, Nice 2x, Bordeaux and Laval), Switzerland (Morges 2x and Geneva), Venezuela, Germany (Recklinghausen and Bönningheim), Ukraine and Slovakia (Zagreb and Bratislawa).