Tangier 1933-1960


Two years after the Second Republic was declared in Spain and as a direct result of the public disturbances, Apperley took his family over to Tangier where he set up a home and studio in 1933. There, in that cosmopolitan North African city, he lived out the remaining years of the Spanish Republic, the turbulent times of the Civil War and finally the post-war period up to his death in 1960. During the whole of this time however, he still kept his favourite house in Granada, where he returned on occasions to spend lengthy periods. He also travelled to other countries.

Apperley went to Morocco inspired by the exotic and suggestive surroundings in search of new perspectives for his work. He was attracted by the lure of the East, as were many of his contemporaries like his friend Morcillo, for example. It was the seductive atmosphere of the area of the countryside, not to mention the climate and the light, which made up his mind to move to Tangier.

His decision to settle there was also influenced by the possibilities it opened up for his work, owing to the special conditions Tangier enjoyed as a European Protectorate. Since the nineteenth century, the historic city of Tingis, as Tangier was formerly known, had, due to its ideal location on the straits of Gibraltar, been the object of of the ambitions of the great European Powers, which were at that time at the height of their colonial expansion. The situation was resolved in 1906 when an international agreement was signed, remaining in force until Tangier became part of the Kingdom of Morocco fifty years later.

During this time, thanks to the free-trading privileges it enjoyed, Tangier became a prosperous centre of commerce and finance, as well as one of the focal points for Summer tourists of all nationalities.

The beauty of its bay, the exoticism of the Medina and the vitality of the city where, alongside the noisy bustling streets and squares, nestled quiet shady corners and pleasant backwaters of peace. These were the characteristics that captivated our English artist.

The sun, countryside and typical character were all factors that lead to Tangier, after Italy and Granada, being the third major influence on Apperley. There, he received the same intimate welcome that Andalucía had offered him.

As time passed by, Apperley built on the upper section of the Marshán district, opposite the shores of Tarifa, a beautiful white-walled villa from where he could gaze out over the splendour of the Atlantic as it stretched away under a clear azure sky.

It was there, in the quiet, friendly corner of the Marshán, that he set up his North-facing studio with its antique furniture, objets d’art and souvenirs from Granada, all helped contribute to the overall sense and harmony. In fact, from his studio window, the painter could even see the coastline of his beloved Spain in the distance.

In 1935, he made a return visit to his house in San Nicolás square in the Albayzín, Granada, the year in which his second son Enrique, affectionately called “Riki”, was born in Tangier on the 26th of May.

In both 1934 and 1936, so that his links with Spain were not completely broken, he also submitted works to the National Fine Arts Exhibitions held at the Retiro in Madrid.

In Tangier, Apperley began a new and intensely fertile stage in his working life. His studio became something of a shrine for pilgrim tourists and aficionados. Although he never completely gave up painting in watercolours, Apperley began to use oils more and more until they constituted most of his output. It would appear that his wife’s advice was influential in this decision. The reasons were not solely commercial, but also due to the artist’s desire to add strength and tone to his paintings.

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