Born in 1927 in the industrial Ystrad Rhondda to parents who had emigrated from southern Italy, Ernest Zobole is firmly established as one of the most important figures in 20th century Welsh visual culture. His very personal view of the Rhondda, his birthplace and constant source of inspiration, have provided us with some of the most vibrant and seductive images in Welsh painting.
His subject matter was always his immediate surroundings, breaking up the landscape so that we see fragments of both interior and exterior, often through doorways and windows, and constantly varying scale and perspective. The human figure, often tentative, is ever-present. Indeed, the artist spoke of his paintings seeming incomplete without a human presence. Time and memory are further ingredients in this glorious pictorial stew. Not for nothing was he known as the Chagall of the Valleys.
Behind all this seeming chaos, there is a very sophisticated artist, whose concerns lies very much with the formal construction of, and use of colour in his paintings. All of these elements come together to create totally original and imaginative pictures, with the Rhondda and its people representing a universal humanity for both artist and viewer.
Ernie was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Swansea in 1996. He died in 1999 shortly after his last exhibition at Martin Tinney Gallery and was awarded a posthumous doctorate by the University of Glamorgan in 2001
National Museum of Wales; Newport Museum and Art Gallery; Arts Council of Wales; Contemporary Art Society for Wales; University of Wales, Aberystwyth; University College, Swansea; University of Wales, Bangor; University of South Wales; University of York; Clare College, Cambridge; St, Mary's College, Twickenham; BBC Wales, Cardiff; Private Collections worldwide.