The density of techniques, materials and content which can come together in a single work of Josep Guinovart is almost infinite.
If, for example, we take a specific painting, El cor de l’era (2003) (and this not one of my favourites which are included in the retrospective which occupies the entire space of the Espais Volart of the Vila Casa Foundation) – the readings overlap: there are grains of wheat – a material which is included from 1957 – there is a luminous blue which appears; a drawing like a graffiti artist; and there is also a clockwork mechanism which marks the seconds in the centre of the era represented, in a gesture that shows the limits of kineticism, the conceptual and pop art. The era, the rural space par excellence, marking the rhythm of the time of the universe.
The title of the exhibition Josep Guinovart. Transformed Reality is a good one since this Barcelona artist, who died 2007, dedicated his art to an attempt to change the world, as he saw it, as he perceived it, as he wanted it to be. Curated by Llucià Homs, this is the exhibition that closes the commemorations for the tenth anniversary of his death. Although he always appears as an informalist artist, Guinovart is difficult to label and this exhibition demonstrates that in the correct decision of not having set it up chronologically. We can find paint dripping outside the surface of the canvas and encrustations of objects in the style of Rauschenberg albeit with the more intimate spirit than the American artist.
Iconic installations such as the beautiful Contorn-Entorn have been recovered, which surprised the public of the Maeght Gallery (now gone) in 1976 with a forest of painted and tuned tree trunks. Some of the works painted asbestos are shown, dignifying this cheap but highly toxic material. Years later, when there were many victims of its toxicity, Guinovart used it for the work Treballadors de la Rocalla (1997) to denounce the brutal genocide of workers in the 1950s.
Guinovart’s work may sometimes be overloaded but it is also hypnotic, with masterpieces such as Rake (1975). It also requires quality filters – was it really necessary to include the wooden cows from the year 2000? But it is also a work that invites you take a closer look at, and to talk to the person next to you about. With no clear intention to be so Guino’s art is participative and that is a rabidly contemporary thing.
Guinovart is “the victim of his own energy”.
The poet and art critic, and one of Guinovart’s strongest defenders, José Corredor-Matheos is right when one of his poets dedicated to Guino in 1999 begins with the line: Life happens ebulliently. It is true – the art pours out of Guinovart’s work, sometimes like a steady drizzle and others like a deafening downpour. Like other prolific creators, Guinovart is “the victim of his own energy”, as the curator of the Year of Guinovart, Àlex Susanna, assures us, but also like all great artists he continues to engage us ten years after his death.
Josep Guinovart. Transformed Reality can be seen at the Espais Volart of the Vila Casas Foundation until 19 May.