The final sentence is a reference to the fact that the magazine was designed in two sections, so the middle 20 pages (numbered in this issue 153-172) could be lifted out and bound into book-like volumes. In the process, the surrounding editorial and advertising pages – and the covers – would be discarded.
To anyone anxious to make his first excursion into what is commonly called modern art, I should strongly recommend the “Sancha” route ; it will lead him comfortably into the regions he desires to explore without the jars, jolts, knocks and buffetings he must surely experience via the famous Cezanne — and the nerve-racking, or wrecking, Vorticist — Lines.
It is not quite easy to say where exactly “ancient ” art ceases and ” modern ” art begins : since the Great War there has been a good deal of frontier-shifting in the political, the scientific and the meta-physical world. One may, however, fairly safely contend that modern art begins where the artist has ceased to pretend that he is a purveyor of nature-substitutes.
At heart, of course, all artists, even the old-fashionedest, have known that they are nothing of the kind and that only the fulsome adulation of the lay mind lent colour to such pretension. The real difference between old and new in this respect is one of ethics rather than aesthetics : the modern artist is more candid. The only mistake he makes is to rub it in too fiercely
Sancha is certainly “modern,” but he does not rub it in. There is in his art no pretence of nature-substitution, but he is engagingly and insinuatingly polite in his candour. You look, for example, at his water-colour, The Boathouse, and think how natural it all is. You have experienced the oily ripple of quiet waters and the weeping of willows ; you have been struck many a time with the pleasant contrast of a red creeper-hung roof with just such a green setting, and just such a sky of autumnal pallor. You know it all. But it is not really like nature : it is like a picture, because it is one : i.e., a carefully thought-out arrangement of scrupulously selected lines and colours. So also with the landscape called The Wood. It is nothing like nature in looks, it is very like her in feeling. You know nature in just such a one of her sunny evening moods. Sancha has made a “record” which upon contact with the mind ” listening in” at the nerve end of your eyes evokes within you a familiar emotion.
Again, the ‘Rag and Bone Merchant’s Shanty’, Madrid, strikes you at a first glance as being photographically prosaic in its impartiality. It seems to record the brilliant sunlight and the sordid backyard aspect of modern civilisation with equal indifference. Suddenly you become aware that no camera could cope with the facts or deal with the message the picture conveys. It is a little gem of humour in a setting of naked realism, done in a penman’s rather than a brush-painter’s manner.
A visit to the Centro Español, the Spanish Club in Cavendish Square, which has been extensively decorated by Sancha, further confirms him as a draughtsman of sensibility and skill, of imagination and satire.
The dining room here is covered with a mural decoration drawn in sepia outline only, but with oil colour. It has for its subject-matter views of typical Spanish towns and scenery, Toledo, Burgos, Murcia and many others, all very skilfully done and with clever regard for essentials. I confess, however, that to me monochrome outline in mural decoration is like a drum and triangle “solo”. In the billiard and other rooms Sancha has painted decorative panels with added touches of colour which make real music of his rhythms. Here, he allows us to see him at his best. The canvases are all essentially drawings, and nearly always distinguished by a suggestion of satire or simple fun. Of these pictures, that of the Castilian donkey rider, here illustrated, gives a good idea.
Sancha was born in Malaga about forty-eight years ago. He began to earn his living, after his father’s death, at the early age of fifteen. Trained in Madrid and Paris, he drew for Paris papers such as Le Rire and L’Assiette au Beurre.
He came to London in 1901. England made him a painter; it was here that his eyes were opened to colour. “The Spanish painters,” he says, “know only tone, but nothing of colour.” One might feel inclined to dispute this perhaps, so much depends on the meaning of words.
I know not a few artists who would put Velasquez above Titian as a colourist. Sancha has become well known in this country as a caricaturist. He complains, nevertheless, that drawing for the press has handicapped him as a painter; affirms that he would have preferred architecture as a career, and rounds off this open confession with: “An artist with nothing to do would suit me wonderfully.”
Interpreted, this means that he regards all that part of his occupation which he must give to money-making as an injury to the freedom of his soul, as a despoiler of his art.
Nevertheless, he is, I think, mistaken. It is precisely the draughtsman-like quality of his painting which gives to his art a distinct and attractive individuality, and the philosophic humour of his temperament invests his pictures with a focal interest only too often lacking in modern art.