Pablo Palazuelo
Spain, 1916
Spain, 2007
Together with Antoni Tàpies, Pablo Palazuelo was the grandfather of Spanish contemporary art, although this owed more to the quality of his work than the fact that he lived into his nineties. He studied architecture at the Oxford City School of Arts and Crafts between 1933 and 1936. In 1947 he discovered Paul Klee’s painting and read his texts on the line, which had a major influence on his own idea of art, even though he distanced himself somewhat from Klee when he came up with his own truly original line of work. In 1948 he travelled to Paris and in 1949 he started to work with the Galerie Maeght, where he struck up a friendship with Serge Poliakoff, Yves Klein, Alberto Giacometti, Ellsworth Kelly and fellow Spaniard Eduardo Chillida. He continued to exhibit at the gallery until the late eighties. “I’m investigating something, I’m getting close, I’m on its trail,” Palazuelo said to the Maeghts when they met. What he was searching for marked his work from then on: a different kind of geometry from that used by the Constructivists and members of the Normative Art movement—something he sometimes called “transgeometry” and at other times “organic geometry”. Rather than taking the square, circle or triangle as basic figures to be combined to create an order, this geometry concerns itself almost exclusively with lines unbound by scientific conventions to venture—in the aptest sense of the word—into the twilight of dreams and visions. This conception has its theoretical roots in ancient sacred geometries, secret numerologies, Pythagoreanism and other pre-Socratic lines of thought, Neoplatonism, cosmology, biology, alchemy and Tantrism. And also in the way in which the Chinese link numerology with the harmony of forms in the world and in art; this last point also ties in with the idea of ornamental Islamic art. “Geometry seems central to me because it is the measurement of matter,” said Palazuelo. “Geometry can be seen in the deep layers of nature, as an expression of moving numbers.” In his case, nature thinks and the line dreams. His work reveals the internal rhythms of matter. Even our dreams and thoughts are matter. Pablo Palazuelo lived in Paris until 1969, when he returned to Madrid following the death of Aimé Maeght. In 1973 he had his first solo exhibition in Madrid, which was also his first solo exhibition in Spain. He was also a sculptor—he showed his first pieces in 1977— as well as a poet and musical collaborator. “My sculptures,” he said, “are a development of my work on space, shifted from two to three dimensions.” In 1986 he worked with Frédéric Nyst on the LP Le nombre et les eaux, based on the structure of Palazuelo’s drawings in his 1978 series ‘El número y las aguas’. In 1952 Pablo Palazuelo won the Kandinsky Prize. In 1958 he received the 5th Carnegie Prize in Pittsburgh. In 1982 the Spanish Ministry of Culture honoured him with the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts. In 1993 he was awarded the Madrid Region Award for Plastic Creation. And in 1999 he won the National Fine Arts Award. In 2004 the Spanish Ministry of Culture awarded him the Velázquez Prize. He died in 2007.
Mariano Navarro