“I will retire the day I die”



Zamora, Mar 23 (EFE) .- The sculptor José Luis Coomonte, who this Tuesday has been awarded the Castilla y León Prize for the Arts 2020, at 88 years old and after more than six decades of prolific artistic career, has assured that he will only retire on the day he dies.

After the regional award was made public, Coomonte has assured in an interview with the Efe Agency that although he officially retired at the age of seventy, he continues with his sculptural work in his workshop in San Marcial (Zamora), because exercising art “benefits me because it motivates me to stay “.

In fact, this artist has ready for Zamora, where he resides, a sculpture in aluminum, iron and stone dedicated to the poets and has been commissioned to make a cross for the Zamora cemetery.

All this despite the fact that this son of a carpenter suffers from a hereditary macular degeneration that makes him “almost blind”, which is not an impediment to exercising drawing and wanting to teach blind people to teach them to draw without seeing.

Obtaining the Castilla y León Prize for the Arts has admitted that he has been surprised by his advanced age and has revealed that he will dedicate it “to the respect that the nature of the earth deserves, which belongs to no one, belongs to everyone”.

After also claiming his creative and vital freedom, Coomonte has highlighted his versatility, which has made him work with materials and themes “of the most different in the world because what I have had is a lot of creativity and a lot of work in everything, I have had that luck, “he confessed.

Proof that he is still “on his head” are the anecdotes that he has shelled in the interview, such as those relating to his first great recognition as a sculptor, the gold medal of the 1960 Salzburg Sacred Art Biennial (Austria) for his ” Monstrance”.

He attended that contest on behalf of Spain because Eduardo Chillida did not want to do it because it was a biennial dedicated to the Eucharist and he sold the medal obtained because it was gold and he needed the money, as he recalled.

This award allowed him to receive commissions for sculptural works for different places in Spain, other European countries and even for the Philippines.

Among his work in Castilla y León, he has mentioned religious pieces such as the tabernacle under the Churrigueresque altarpiece of the San Esteban de Salamanca convent, sheet metal sculptures such as the one entitled “Amables winds de Castilla” from the Prado de Valladolid monastery and commissioned works such the shield of the old Civil Government of León.

Born in the Zamora town of Benavente in 1932, José Luis Alonso Coomonte, known artistically by his second surname, studied at the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid and throughout his career he has alternated urban sculpture with forging, the wood, stained glass, imagery and religious work, in addition to teaching Fine Arts at the University of Salamanca.

In Zamora, wrought iron works such as “Horizontal Equilibrium” stand out, next to the city wall; the emblematic lamppost that has been seen in the central Plaza de la Marina for 42 years or a milestone commemorating the 1,100th anniversary of the repopulation of the city that was installed in that same square 25 years ago.

It also has urban sculpture in Salamanca, where next to the Palace of Congresses and Exhibitions of Castilla y León you can see a commemorative work of the Spanish Constitution that shows ten superimposed pyramids that symbolize the ten titles of the Magna Carta.

From his imagery work, the contributions to the procession of Jesús Yacente de Zamora stand out, with works inspired by elements of the work of the field, such as the Yugos Cross or the Crown of Thorns made with plowshares.

Currently, 33 sculptures by Coomonte made over half a century are displayed until June 6 in the exhibition “Reto y materia”, at the Ethnographic Museum of Castilla y León, based in Zamora.

By Alberto Ferreras

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