At the end of 2019, art brut collector and gallery owner Éric Gauthier spotted a trove of small drawings available online through an antiques dealer in Barcelona. Gauthier immediately acquired the entire body of work, comprising over three-hundred pieces. During their conversations, Gauthier learned that the antique dealer himself found these works at a flea market in Barcelona only five years earlier.
Very little is known about the drawings’ maker, referred to as “E.S.G.” due to the presence of the three initials on a handful of works. Most of the drawings were made on the backs of carefully cut cigarillo boxes. The brands of the cigarillos indicating that they were made in Spain ("Para la renta de tabacos de España") or in the Canary Islands ("Labor de Canarias"), seem to confirm that the artist was originally from Spain, or at least that he lived there. The reverse side of two of the drawings have stamps dating from the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), coming to the likely conclusion that the artist was making these works in the 1930s. During this time, Spain was still a very rural country, lagging behind other parts of Europe in its industrial development, and divided by great social inequalities: eight million Spaniards lived in poverty, most of whom worked as seasonal day laborers for the minority of wealthier landholders. This suggests that E.S.G. was most likely one of these laborers, working around the country’s farms, drawing the countryside and estates that he observed.
E.S.G. drew mainly landscapes - fields, sea views, railway bridges, tracks and tunnels, churches, manor houses, and castles. In these always deserted landscapes, what is remarkable above all is the strength of the composition of the trees, the perspective of depth, and a distancing of emotion. The works also possess a sense of composition and contrast that is reminiscent of black-and-white photographs.
E.S.G.'s drawings were debuted in America at the 2020 Outsider Art Fair in New York by Éric Gauthier's Galerie du moineau écarlate.