Josep Guinovart
Spain, 1927
Spain, 2007
In 1944 Josep Guinovart enrolled in the Escola d’Arts Aplicades i Oficis Artístics (now the Escola Llotja). He completed his studies at the FAD (Foment de les Arts Decoratives) in Barcelona, and in Paris, where he studied under a grant he received from the Institut Français in 1953. Upon his return to Barcelona, Guinovart, together with Antoni Tàpies and Joan Josep Tharrats, founded the short-lived Taüll group, an early expression of the desire for renewal in post-war Spain. In the late 1940s he produced highly lyrical magic realist work, and in the 1950s he explored a particular variant of Figurative Expressionism through a plastic schematism with a clear socio-political intent, underpinned by a deep commitment to reality. Guinovart absorbed and re-created symbols from the work of Picasso and Miró, paid tribute to political activists and literati, and undoubtedly used painting as a form of protest and an expression of radicalism, an approach that earned him a place at many international biennials over several decades. From the 1970s, his open, unorthodox spirit and determination to bear witness were expressed in paintings rich in assemblages as he fully embraced a tectonic form of abstraction that emerged from a perceptible excitation between natural elements, the object, the drawing and the overflow of paint. Guinovart’s epic use of material and collage, with captivating textures and elements drawn from the land and the implements of real life, evokes the social vitality of Robert Rauschenberg’s work and the celebration of the natural that characterises much of Anselm Kiefer’s output. In his hands painting becomes a convulsive, poetic way of apprehending reality and, above all, the outcome of a sensuousness rooted in the arid landscapes of his childhood in Lleida, in the intense hues of the tropics and the Mediterranean, and in the harsh lands of Castile and the African desert. These experiences gave rise to bulbous clay surfaces, crackled, full of stubble or wood, which he used to create other mappings and to produce pictorial dislocations, such as painting on the back of a piece, which allowed him to create new rearrangements of space and pursue his desire to shape new worlds. The complete installation Contorn-entorn, donated to the Museu d’Art Modern de Barcelona (MACBA) in 1978, is a good example of how all these elements come together. Throughout his career Josep Guinovart illustrated books and magazines. He was an avid printmaker and created sets and costumes for theatre and ballet performances. He also contributed to architectural projects by creating a series of murals that reflect his strong belief in the social function of art. Since 1994 his work has been exhibited at the Fundació Espai Guinovart in Agramunt (Lleida). Guinovart set up the foundation and designed its spaces to reflect his artistic concerns.
Teresa Blanch