A few days before his ninetieth birthday, he died this morning Josephine Robirosaone of the great referents of Argentine painting. Much loved and respected by her colleagues, she had left the stage almost a decade ago because she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. “We never knew if she stopped painting because of illness, or if she got sick because she stopped painting,” her son, José Ignacio Miguens, who was in charge of the painting, told LA NACION. to represent her with her sister María. Both clarified that there would be no revival and that their mother passed away peacefully.
He had started painting when he was a teenager, and it was his passion. “He entered a higher state of mind”, recalls his son, born of marriage with the lawyer and sociologist Jose Enrique Miguens. Alvear’s granddaughter on her mother’s side, she was raised at Sans Souci Palace in San Fernando. She got married when she was 17, and two years later she was already a mother. Thanks to them, he has five grandchildren including the sculptor Mary Torcellothat he dedicated a thank you message on facebook– and five great-grandchildren, family for whom he felt devotion. He also divorced very young and returned to form a couple with the sculptor george michaelhis great love.
After being honored at the Arte Espacio fair in San Isidro in 2015, the last exhibition she participated in was this one retrospective at the Rubbers gallery, two years later, which brought together some thirty works produced over more than half a century. At the entrance, a design from the 1970s stands out, in which a set of rocks stands on a blanket of clouds.
“It’s like a Magritte,” the curator told the newspaper at the time. Mercedes Casanegra, who would also be in charge of a retrospective dedicated to him in 2018 by the National Endowment for the Arts. Robirosa’s work flirts with surrealism, but also with abstract and geometric art. Sometimes his paintings are pop and at others he returns to nature through leafy forests -one of his most recognized series-, as if to deceive the observer”.
In the same way he deceived with his eternal smile and his freshness. “He was cheerful, sociable, reckless: he had no filter. A great artist and a great person, he had a life to celebrate. He was hosting tea parties at his house in San Telmo and we laughed so much we stayed until three in the morning,” he recalled. William Alonso, who shared with her decades of work and friendship. As he prepares an exhibition which will be dedicated to him next year in Cordoba, the director of Museums and Heritage of this province highlights his talent but also his great generosity towards young artists. “When it was director of the National Endowment for the Arts – she underlines -, she was very attentive to their needs and obtained credits for them”.
correspond to him Norbert Frigerio, Director of Institutional Relations at LA NACION: “Hard worker, inspiring, renewing her own model, tireless, teacher, good friend – she says -. Can’t say more.”
Perhaps, what she says herself in a text published in a catalog for her 2012 exhibition at Recoleta Cultural Centerwhere he surprises by installing in the Cronopios room his fibrofácil birds: “My painting is me and it seems so simple that I don’t know if I should say it. But I have to say it so you understand why I can’t talk about my painting. It would be like putting myself in front of people to talk about myself and this task would take me another 34 years with its days and nights and you never know certain days and let’s not talk about dreams. Besides, it would be another job. In addition, there is modesty.
An unjustified modesty, since if something has made a career, it is solidity. At the request of their children, Josefina Barcia and Ariadna González Naya began to catalog the works of a long career, which began with an exhibition at the Bonino gallery 66 years ago. After studying with Héctor Basaldúa and Elisabeth von Rendell, Robirosa joined the vanguard of Di Tella Institute, painted murals in public buildings, in two metro stations in Buenos Aires and in the Argentine metro station in Paris. In 1959, Jorge Romero Brest invited him to join the Argentine expedition to the São Paulo Biennialand became a number academician at National Academy of Fine Arts. Its heritage includes collections such as those of the National Museum of Fine Arts -which devoted a retrospective to him in 1997-the Modern and several from abroad.
Throughout this journey, always true to herself, she never stopped experimenting: Paintings from the 60s in garish colorsmounted on rectangular or circular frames, and human figures crossed by geometric lines, extended surreal paintings of the 1980s. With the new millennium would come another turn towards geometric constructions.
“His works are like visions, they have something mystical, they are like premonitory. Like the 2001 paintings, of blurred buildings. In the center, almost tiny, we see people falling. He painted them just before the fall of the twin towers”, warned Casanegra in 2017. And today he says goodbye saying: “We all identify his production with nature, one of the themes he favors in his work, as well as various types of abstraction, sometimes more lyrical, sometimes geometric. Among so many other qualities that we could mention, Josefina Robirosa was a great friend, both from artists and others outside of this medium. Her great generosity characterizes her as tall person. Without a doubt, she will be missed in the private and public spheres. It will be essential to keep that in mind.”