Celso Lagar’s lengthy stay in Paris between from 1915 to 1963 provided him with first-hand knowledge of the aesthetics of the French avant-garde movements. He also produced most of his work in the French capital. As one of the founders of the Salon des Surindépendants, he played a part in raising awareness of the art of Max Jacob, Modigliani, Picasso, Duchamp, Léger and Derain. A member of the so-called School of Paris, Lagar also began to practise Spanish painting configured as a tendency with an urge to construct.
A friend of the poet Josep Maria Junoy and of the painter Rafael Barradas, Lagar defended the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. In artistic terms, his painting evolved from his initial Cubist tendency to figuration close to the Expressionism of Spanish origin. Lagar’s motifs of the imaginary of the circus, his bulls and landscapes are always constructed with a hint of bitterness. Amid the influence of Picasso’s Rose Period and the Expressionism of Roucault, Lagar painted Caballo y figuras.
In the middle of the peaceful plain that frames the scene – sea and mountains – Lagar blurrily draws a naked new-born baby covered over by the strongman in the foreground – his back turned to the spectator – who lifts the baby up or lowers him from the back of a horse that is not at rest but which has raised its front legs, putting the vulnerable baby at risk. The strength of the man, who also stands on his tiptoes, overcomes the animal’s impulse, nor does the branch of the tree frighten it. The brightness of the colours and the lack of precision in the definition of the forms imbue the painting with an expressiveness and movement that reveal Lagar to be one of the leading members of the Generation of 1914.
Lagar uses the devices of the disfiguration of the subjects, the blurred line of the detailed drawing, and the three colours of the background (green, blue and ochre) to create tension in the painting. Secondly, the contrast between the black of the man’s suit and the white of the horse creates a sense of rounded distortion in the scene. The man’s clothing calls to mind a cheerful atmosphere and at the same time pays tribute to the circus and the influence of Picasso. The artist’s painting combines a number of techniques and becomes a crossroads at which avant-garde techniques intersect on a figurative base and Expressionist fringes.