Juan Barjola

Badajoz, 1919 - Madrid, 2004

Juan Barjola was born in 1919 in the heart of a humble farming family, in a town of Badajoz where he was to spend all his childhood. From his natural talent, he began to draw spontaneously everything that surrounded him, and it would be Julio Nuñez, a painter who spent her his summers in the town, who would spur on his fondness for painting.

At the age of 15 he moved to the capital of Badajoz in order to go got to classes in the Arts and Trades School where he was only allowed to draw plaster reproductions and to broaden his knowledge of perspective and procedures.

The tragic episodes that he was to live as an adolescent, when the Spanish Civil War broke out, were to affect his future work deeply.

He was willing to go on with his formation, and he left for Madrid in 1943 so that he could enroll in the Arts and Trades School. There he painted still life pictures and was encouraged in exercises of imagination and composition. He enrolled in the San Fernando School of Fine Arts, to solely attend the woodcarving classes given by Julio Vicent, at the same time as he went to the drawing classes given at the Fine Arts Circle and the Museum of Artistic reproductions. In parallel, he broadened his formation at the Prado Museum, where he copied Velazquez and interpreted Goya, Brueghel, El Greco and El Bosco. He did his first engraving and then went on to earn a living as
an official sculptor in the Granda workshops.

In 1946 he got married and began to question the decision of dedicating himself solely to painting. Up until then, his works represented scenes taken from family life, suburban personages and other familiar scenes, in a predominantly natural manner; although certain characteristic streaks of expressionism could be observed.

In 1957, he presented his first individual exhibition in the Galería Abril in Madrid, but it was a total failure because he did not sell a single work. He left for Belgium for three months, where he was impressed by the great pictures of Ensor, after when he goes to Paris. There he is impacted by the work of Matisse, Poutine and Braque.
In the ensuing years, his exhibitions multiply exponentially, diffusing his work all over Europe, in Japan, the United States and Latin America. His work began to be much more recognized, up to the point that it converted Barjola in the principal representative of the New Figuration moverment.

Between 1968 and 1975, he gave classes of Colour and Composition in the San Fernando Superior School of Fine Arts, besides exhibiting in several countries.

In December 1988,the Barjola Museum was inaugurated in Gijón, impulsed by the Principality of Asturias and containing a generous donation of the painter’s works and those of his wife, who was born in the Priincipality.

In 2004, at the age of 85 years, he died after an accident suffered in his art studio in Madrid. If during his life he stood out in his exhibitions both individual and collective, after his death, he was dedicated important presentations such as the retrospective one celebrated in the IVAM of Valencia in 2006. Currently, he is represented in the Museum in Gijón which bears his name, in the Queen Sofía of Madrid, the Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao, Fine Arts of Asturias, the Chile Solidarity Museum, Camón Aznar de Zaragoza and those of Modern Art in Vilafamés, Sevilla, Alicante, Toledo and Cáceres, among many more.

Exhibited Works

  • ”El pintor y el perro”, ink on paper, 1993.