Trained at the School of Fine Arts in Valencia, Joan Genovés is a Spanish painter with a timeless artistic discourse. Concerned with the need to renew Spanish art and the role of the artist in society, Genovés was committed to democratic ideals. His work tied into social and political thought as well as contemporary art dialogues. The exhibition, currently on show at Fundación Bancaja and curated by María Toral, is one of the most important to date and includes work from over six decades from the 1960s until his death in May 2020. His work is marked by the prominence of the human figure and centres around the themes of life and death, war, relationships, and social behaviours.
One can appreciate the artist’s contribution to contemporary thought as Genovés was an intellectual who was committed to his time and always involved in the political and social reality of the moment. Even when his artwork began to take off and it was proposed he move to America to join the pop art movement, Genovés chose to stand with the Spanish people and always placed the fight for democracy above his personal artistic endeavours. However, Genovés was aware of the power of art as a tool for social transformation and his artistic visions were always informed by contemporary social and political realities.
Consisting of over seventy works, the exhibition features some of Genovés’ most iconic pieces such as El abrazo (1976) from the collection at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Relating to the political situation in the world at large, this painting was created when Franco had died after forty years in power. His death ushered in a political period where the country was torn between achieving democracy or perpetuating a dictatorial regime. After the death of Franco, a notable change can be perceived in the artwork of Genovés. Painted in the seventies, El abrazo was a hopeful symbol of amnesty, democracy, and transition. The exhibition therefore highlights the inseparability of art from everyday lived realities for individuals such as Genovés.
The final stage of the exhibition sees Genovés experiment with colours and textures to ultimately create what became his most recognisable style of art. He inundates his paintings with crowds of people and began to challenge the boundary of medium specificity. Each painting has a wealth of visual details and striking use of colour. Using mixed-media forms and three-dimensional volumes, the characters on Genovés’ paintings are composed of objects found on walks as a powerful metaphor of human imprint on the planet. In this way, the materials used to create this work reflect one of the key themes of the exhibition itself.
There is a quotation on one of the walls in the exhibition that translates to: “The art of now will outlive us all. Generations will come in the future. They will try to understand it in a different way. That is the magic of Art”. The art of Joan Genovés is inextricably bound up in contemporary social and political realities but will continue to exist gathering new interpretations throughout time. The artist’s admirable ambition led to the creation of timeless paintings that will be displayed until the 16th of April at Fundación Bancaja. Don’t miss the opportunity to see his inspiring work with your own eyes.
Report by Imogen Hockings
Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’
Photo copyright Imogen Hockings/ ’24/7 Valencia’
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