Jacobo Azaguri (later Azagury) was born in Gibraltar on 12 June 1886 to father Abraham and mother Simy. He died on 17th January 1980.
Jacobo was passionate about art from an early age, and this led him to study at the ‘Real Academia San Fernando’ in Madrid in 1915. In 1923, he moved to Lisbon to further his studies under Professor Cardoso y Veloso Salgada. This Professor was highly respected at the time, but Jacobo, when asked about his teacher’s influence on his art, famously replied that his true teacher was in fact ‘Mother Nature and [his] love for mankind’.
Jacobo was Expressionist in style, and was preoccupied with social conditions and moral ideals in his works. He used a muted palette, even in his landscapes. Azagury had a tendency to strip nature of its beautiful and sensuous colours to reflect the hidden world of austerity and poverty. His subjects were derived from the under-privileged, mainly from Gibraltar and Madeira.
He admired a number of artists such as Michelangelo, da Vinci and Rafael, but cited Velazquez, Goya and El Greco as being his main sources of inspiration.
Throughout his career, Azagury exhibited in Spain- La Linea, Jerez de la Frontera, Malaga and Granada; Morocco-Tangier; and Madeira- Funchal, where he was evacuated from 1940 to 1944 during the Second World War.
Upon his return to Gibraltar after the war, Azagury became a founding member of the Calpe Artists Society, and highly encouraged and supported up-and-coming artists.
Azagury first exhibited in Gibraltar in 1952 at the Calpe Institute, and continued to show in a number of exhibitions in Gibraltar throughout his lifetime, the most prominent being in 1965 just after the John Mackintosh Hall was inaugurated.
Jacobo spent the last years of his life in the Jewish Home battling cancer. A tumour caused him to lose the vision from his left eye but this did not deter him from continuing to paint. Jacobo was extremely close to his brother Solomon (Solly), a writer, who looked after Jacobo until his death.
During his lifetime, Azagury was widely regarded as a much misunderstood and under-rated artist. Due to extensive campaigning from his companions at the Calpe Artists Society, most notably Mario Finlayson, his contribution to the art community in Gibraltar was finally recognised.
Jacobo Azagury was awarded the OBE on the 30th December 1978. He was also posthumously awarded the Gibraltar Medallion of Honour in 2008, for services to the arts.
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