(born 1930, Guayaquil, Ecuador) is a master Ecuadorian painter and teacher representing a whole Hispanic pictorial and artistic culture.
Tábara took interest in painting at the age of three and was drawing regularly by the age of six. In these early years he was strongly encouraged by both his sister and his mother. Enrique Tábara nevertheless is a creator who investigates and demystifies the image in which he takes refuge. Tábara's energetic and innovating spirit is a constant that reveals the anxious and versatile spirit of the teacher. A master of experimentation, he is fully aware of his roots and the process that he has followed over the years, with an abundant mass of brilliant works to show for it.
Tábara was greatly influenced by the Constructivist Movement, founded around 1913 by Russian artist Vladimir Tatlin, which made its way into Europe and Latin America by way of Uruguayan painter Joaquin Torres Garcia and Parisian/Ecuadorian painter Manuel Rendón. Torres Garcia and Rendón both made an enormous impact on Latin America's master artists such as Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís, Félix Arauz, Theo Constanté, Oswaldo Viteri, Estuardo Maldonado and Carlos Catasse, to name a few.
In 1946, Tábara attended the School of Fine Arts in Guayaquil and was mentored by German artist Hans Michaelson and Guayaquileno artist, Luis Martinez Serrano. In 1951, Tábara finished mastering the fundamentals and left art school. Tábara's early works typically depicted grotesque characters, marginalized peoples of Guayaquil, prostitutes, and some portraits. By 1953, Tábara began to paint more abstract images.
Tábara held his first US exhibit in 1954 at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C. In 1955, the Ecuadorian government offered Tábara a scholarship to study at the Escuela Official de Bellas Artes de Barcelona (The "Llotja", Catalan for "Exchange", the school had originally been named "Academy of the Exchange"). Tábara's work was welcomed with great success in Spain and Tábara befriended surrealist André Breton and Modernist painter Joan Miró. By 1959, Tábara's work had gained a great deal of international attention. André Breton asked Tábara to represent Spain in the Homage to Surrealism Exhibition, among the works of Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Eugenio Granell. Miró enthusiastically praised Tábara's work and presented Tábara with an original piece of his artwork which Tábara has long treasured as pure gold.
While living in Barcelona, Tábara began working with Antoni Tàpies, Antonio Saura, Manolo Millares, Modest Cuixart and many other Spanish Infomalist artists. Tàpies and Cuixart were members of the first Post-War Movement in Spain known as Dau-al-Set, founded by Catalan poet Joan Brossa. Tábara wrote several articles for their publication of the same name, Dau-al-Set. Dau-al-Set was connected with Surrealism and Dadaism and its members sought a connection to both the conscious and unconscious in their work. Dau-al-Set opposed both the Formalist Movement and the formal art centers. The group was inspired by the early works of Max Ernst, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró.
In 1963, Tábara represented Ecuador together with Humberto Moré and Theo Constanté at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris for the Third Biennial of Paris. By 1964, Tábara's work was being shown throughout Latin America, as well as Lausanne, Milan, Grenchen, Vienna, Lisbon, Munich, Barcelona, Madrid, Washington, New York and Paris.
After living and painting in Europe for over nine years Tábara felt that there was not enough being done in the name of Latin American Modern art so in 1964 he returned to Ecuador in search of a new aesthetic. Tábara reconnected to his roots through the Latin American current of "Ancestralism", which finds inspiration in pre-Hispanic cultures that inhabited the continent (third stage). Tábara is the first artist to use the Pre-Columbian motif as a search for a new aesthetic.
Shortly after returning to Ecuador, Tábara founded the Informalist art group, VAN, that was in opposition to the Indigenists. VAN had a double meaning, from the avant-garde term, Vanguard, as well as, the Spanish phrase "se van" meaning, "they are going". In other words, the artists were moving on, away from Guayasaminism and Indigenism that had been dominating the art scene of Ecuador for decades. VAN consisted of Tábara, Villacís, Maldonado, Cifuentes, Molinari, Almeida, and Muriel. VAN strongly opposed the Communist political views of Oswaldo Guayasamin and was in a constant search of new artistic pathways while never losing a connection to their Pre-Columbian roots.
Finally, Tábara started to paint simple shapes inspired in nature, and also other simple structures, such as his famed "Patas-Patas", or Feet-Feet, as well as insects and shrubs. Tábara is most known for his Patas-Patas works which contain legs with feet incorporated into the piece. When asked about this subject matter, Tábara says that one day he was drawing a figure but he didn't like it, so he ripped it up and the feet of the figure landed at his feet, thus his fate. It has been suggested by some critics that Tábara's use of feet was possibly a subtle statement in opposition to Guayasamin's use of hands. In some of Tábara's Patas-Patas works, the legs are bold focal points that stand out clearly. In other works, the legs are more obscure or seem to be hidden within shrubs, bones or abstract forms.
Tábara is an artist who is in a constant, infinite search. He likes to experiment and live "pictorical adventures". He believes that in art one has to pose difficult problems for oneself and solve them on the canvas. Today, Tábara is considered one of the most important artists of the last century and has been lauded as a national treasure in Ecuador.
Tábara continues to paint with a vigorous spirit in his home town of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Barcelona is considered Tábara's home away from home.