Onil, 1923- Alicante, 1985
He was a Spanish painter, sculptor and graphic artists, representative of the kinetic movement. He was born into a working family which had q artisan workshop to make cardboard dolls, showing interest from very young for the plastic arts, in spite of a vision defect en one of his eyes.
At the age of 17, he enrolled in the San Fernando Fine Arts School at San Carlos Valencia, obtaining in 1948 the title or drawing teacher. Also that year he received a scholarship from the Spanish University Syndicate so that he could go on with his studies in Paris, where he was to coincide with artists of the size of Eduardo Chillida and Pablo Palazuelo, and he began contacts with vanguard movements, receiving influence from Henri Matisse, Kandinsky, Paul Klee or Georges Braque, who he used to visit at his art workshop.
It was in the summer of 1940 when he did his first exhibition of Abstract Art in Valencia, at the Mateu Gallery, with diverse gouache and a style that the artist himself related with the work o Matisse, which afterwards he was to destroy before the criticism it received, after going back to Paris.
In 1950, he goes through an existential and artistic crisis which conduced him to destroy part of his Paris work.
Shortly after his work, he initiated a turn towards a more expressionist style with still lifes, portraits and human figures, this being the beginning of his immersion in abstract and geometric painting, following in the footsteps of Klee, Kandinksky and Mondrian in gouaches, light cardboard and water colours, in search of what the artist himself came to define as “vocabulary with its own meanings”.
In 1955, he presented his series of “Luminous Reliefs: light boxes, with various planes on the interior, parallel and with cut out geometric shapes on a painted wood structure with plastic sheeting, light bulbs, clock mechanism and an electric motor. He wrote the so called “Manifesto of Light” and began leaning serigraphy techniques, up until that time unknown in Spain, carrying out serigraphy for Vasarely, Mortensen and Bloc, among others.
At the beginning of the decade of the 60s, he went back to Spain and installed himself in Madrid. His luminous reliefs participate with great success in the Bienial of Venice and his works travel to New York. There he obtained the Ford Scholarship and travelled on two occasions to the United States where he makes contact with the newst artistic tendencies of the moment: Pop, Minimalism, the Fluxus movement, and exhibited on both occasions in the Schaefer Gallery, and also in the MOMA at New York. These are the years when he specialized in serigraphy technique and his exhibitions are shared by Italy, Germany or Japan.
He was interested in sculpture in his last vital stage, considering his works as “painting in three dimensions or anti-sculpture” – pieces of iron with a refined technique and geometric synthesis, mobile or turning, hanging or on plinths, but all with a balance between the movement, their optical effect and the light.
His work can be seen in institutions and museums all over the world: the Reina Sofia, the Barcelona Museum of Modern Art, the Cuenca museum of Abstract Art, the fogg Museum at Harvard University, the New York Modern Art Museum, the Museum of Modern rt in Atlanta, the Museum of Hamburg, the Juan March Foundation in Madrid, the University Museum of Alicante, the Museum of Modern Art in Alicante (MACA), the Salvador Allende Museum of Solidarity in Chile …. The list of his prizes and awards is long, from which should be stood out: the Adviser of the Council of Culture of the Generalitat Valenciana, the Gold Medal for Merit for Fine Arts Honorary Citizen of the province by the Alicante Provincial Diputation, Honoris Causa Doctor at Alicante University, Honorary Academic for the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos of Valencia … and shortly before his death, he was name honorary citizen of Onil, his town of birth where at the age of 62 years after a long illness.
- Series “Alhambra”, screenprints, 1977.