Joan Hernández Pijuan

Hommage à Joan Hernández Pijuan


In his late works, Joan Hernández Pijuan undertakes nothing less than to paint unfathomable space – the void. The artist often graphically inscribes a frame onto the painted monochrome surface of the image. The picture within the picture emerges. Mostly, the interior area remains empty, though occasionally, archetypal signs and crude patterns enliven the plane, communicating with the priming color. On the other hand, the paintings with densely composed texture formulate an apotropaic gesture towards the horror vacui. Yet even here, the repetition of uniform elements is closely akin to emptiness, a fact which Joan Hernández Pijuan has also confirmed in an interview.


Joan Hernández Pijuan’s art reflects the basic principles of painting, its means and possibilities. This occurs through the pragmatic point of view of a painter who does not follow preconceived ideas, but concedes the greatest possible space to spontaneity. Into the layers of wet paint, freshly applied with a palette-knife, the painter impresses drawings with a charcoal pencil, thereby exposing the underlying paint layers. The graphical intervention must be precise and quick. The artist uses an almost calligraphic gesture, defining the contours of the pictorial elements with flowing and often uninterrupted lines.


The works of Joan Hernández Pijuan allude to supreme concentration. Their simplicity should not belie their complexity. Thus, the concrete pictorial space calls for an examination of the elemental qualities of painting. Color is fundamental to this; in its application, it has to generate tension and transparency. The line should capture objects in their essential forms and must be placed so as to structure the entire pictorial plane.


Through the actual composition, the artist attempts to isolate what is happening within the image from the external surroundings, providing it with its own endemic space. The lateral framing of the pictorial space is characteristic of the advanced works. Besides the inserted and at times ornamentally decorated frame, one also encounters painted surfaces, which flare out and reveal the underlying layers of color thereby formulating the edge of the image.


The late works of Joan Hernández Pijuan feature a high level of abstraction. Nevertheless, he does not wish to be classified as an abstract artist. The painter is inspired by the landscape of Catalonia, to which he has been linked since childhood. In his paintings, he reproduces the sensation of its open and intimate spaces, its colors and light conditions. Thereby, he produces evocative images, which metaphorically recapture the opulent sensuality of the often sparse landscape.


Joan Hernández Pijuan may be counted amongst Spain’s prominent contemporary artists. His work has long been internationally recognized, as is accounted for by his active practice of exhibiting and the presence of his work within such important collections as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. In the midst of his artistic career the artist passed away in 2005 at the age of seventy-four. The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid will honor his oeuvre with an extensive retrospective in 2012. In its homage to Joan Hernández Pijuan, the andresthalmann gallery is showing selected late works.


Ruth Littman



Press Text Hommage à Joan Hernández Pijuan (pdf)

Press Text Des de la Finestra (pdf)

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