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Indepth Arts News:

"Joan Hernandez Pijuan: Painter"
2003-11-22 until 2004-01-24
Malmo Konsthall
Malmo, , SE Sweden

The exhibition of works by Spanish-Catalan artist Joan Hernández Pijuan consists of paintings and drawings from the beginning of the 1970s up until today., Hernández Pijuan, who was born in Barcelona in 1931 and who now lives part time in the Spanish countryside, began to paint at an early age. In the 1960s he began painting in an expressionist style whose lines revel the movements of the hand and body. During the 70s, empty spaces gained an ncreasingly prominent place in his imagery and the lines of sweeping gestures were replaced by more low-key, geometric shapes. The present exhibition of his works commences at this point in his artistic career.

In the mid-70s, Hernández Pijuan began experimenting with the landscape as a motif. He discovered that the window of his studio framed the landscape without any horizontal line, sky, mountain or tree. This landscape with no other frame or limits than those provided by the window inspired him and he found what he saw to be attractive. He always paints the landscape from memory and so he never sets up his easel "en plein air". He remembers the landscape of his childhood when he roams the surroundings near his studio in Folquer. He makes simplified descriptions of what he sees and these may much later provide the starting point for a painting. In this way, when he paints he is "surrounded by his motif on all sides" rather than being reduced to the humdrum frontal perspective of a plein-air painter.

During the later part of the 70s, Hernández Pijuan worked above all with the relationship of the surface to different techniques. He experimented with water colours, oils and graphite. The central theme in his thoughts and work until the beginning of the 80s was above all how one can bring into being actual pictorial space. How is always more important than what. He proceeds with his painting systematically and with care: "I cannot finish one chapter without exploring all its possibilities. I came to abstraction and formal painting fairly late and very slowly - I would say that it was by a process of elimination and expansion."

During the 80s, Hernández Pijuan began to introduce new forms into his painting. The forms resemble drawing and have a rhythm which can be traced back to the material he uses. The motifs, in those cases they are recognisable, became similar: flowers, cathedrals, buildings or cypresses. He began to paint a frame within the frame - a technique which later became very characteristic of his style. During the 90s, Hernández Pijuan again became interested in the surface and in the texture of the paint, as he had been in the late 70s and 80s. Using a broader brush and with the aid of a palette knife, he again explored the area of the picture. He began to draw with charcoal directly onto the oil paint and created more intense paintings, with varied impasto effects, intricate patterns and the repetition of forms. White, along with black, took over more and more, and the focus was again redirected to the space within the picture.

Hernández Pijuan's goals have never been descriptive or narrative. Instead, via the monochrome surface he emphasises the handcraft behind the painted picture. With this approach he also separates painting as a medium from other "languages" of modern art. He dislikes the label of "artist" - he is a "painter" - as it says on his ID card. The great independence he displays as a painter, in always working alone without direct links to various movements or trends, reveals a particular relationship to being an artist. In all probability we can say that the very best art emerges from this very type of obsession. Hernández Pijuan's art is indeed based on passion.

Joan Hernandez Pijuan
Blomma med gröna kanter/ Flor amb limits verds, 1996

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