Juan Navarro Baldeweg
Spain, 1939
In addition to being one of the leading, contemporary Spanish architects and obtaining significant, international recognition in this field, Juan Navarro Baldeweg is an artist whose work seamlessly combines architecture, painting and sculpture. He first exhibited in 1960, the same year he began studying at the School of Architecture of the Technical University of Madrid. His earliest work linked him to action painting and a form of Minimalism influenced by it, which were completely new to the Spanish art world of the time. In the words of Juan Manuel Bonet, he was the “only post-painterly, abstract artist in Spain”. After spending five years as a guest researcher at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, he returned to Spain. This was when he exhibited a series of sculptural pieces, environments and installations in which he used light, gravitational force, magnetism, music and more to compose a poetic definition of the “place”, thus transforming it into a “space of signification”. Marcel Duchamp and Constantin Brancusi were two of his most important influences at the time. From the eighties and early nineties to the present, he has painted several series that are chromatically incredibly rich and built around a variety of motifs, ranging from the figure to interiors and landscapes. He first embarked on an in-depth exploration of specific abstract experiences derived from his initial interest in Minimalism, but then went on to incorporate lush figuration, adding a detailed reinterpretation of art history to his earlier and strictly personal concerns, arguments and subjects. Recipient of countless awards and honours in the visual arts, his most noteworthy include the National Fine Arts Award (1990); membership in the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (1997); member elect of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid (2000), followed by full membership a few years later (2003); and the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts (2007). Over the past two decades, he has had close to fifty solo exhibitions in addition to participating in several group shows. His work is included in important Spanish and international collections, including those of the MNCARS, the Art Institute of Chicago or the Drawing and Archives Collection of the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York. Hidráulica doméstica, a large-scale, sculpture-installation from 1986, recalls the objectual pieces that made him famous within the art world during the mid-seventies and represents their continuation. The other pieces included in the ”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art often represent the most radical side of his work, which is particularly true in the case of Cabeza, negro y plata (1983) and Academia negra (1987). On the other hand, Paisaje (1993) and Chumbera (1999)—most likely painted at his retreat on the eastern coast of Spain—exemplify his work at its freshest and most direct, dynamic in their conception and opening up new possibilities in the genre of landscape painting.
Mariano Navarro