Patriotic illiteracy. Terror of hell. Easily took the bait from the fascist trap: the song of a mermaid, a programme of advanced socialist appearance, camouflage of anything which without proletarianism is unable to carry out a proletarian revolution. When the blindfold fell from my eyes, it was too late.
1936. Red terror. On being released from prison, I often had to hide. I amused myself by reading and by doing oil paintings of prints by Sorolla.
1939. Blue terror. Vengeance, power and greed: there were no ideals.
Half the town shut up in the Palace.
Segrelles put in prison. His friends prevail on the admiration which he has for the dictator. He is freed.
I am disillusioned by this negative situation. Often go to Segrelles’ house.
The friend becomes the teacher.
Copy drawings from infancy done in San Carlos. Extend illustrations to oils. We celebrate this as they were more attractive than those of Sert. Maybe we were wrong.
Pepito, a bright boy who would become “Monjalés” came to learn at the house-museum which Segrelles had built. There I received my first “natural” lessons. The boy went to San Carlos.
At holiday time Monjalés, who still signed as Soler-Vidal never left my house. We experimented according to his progress. We studied El Greco and Goya. The impressionists. Solana, Quirós, Picasso, above all, “intoxicated” us, according to Segrelles’ angry challenge. We painted scenes from “Quijote”. We practised daring styles of “still life” and nature scenes. At Christmas we amused ourselves by making water-colour cards. We filled sketchbooks with charcoal drawings. I was surprised by how easy everything came.
When the studies were over, Monjalés went to Valencia. Sometimes he returned home thrilled with the talks of “Monterrey”. He got me to attend. Once a week there was a meeting. Manolo and Jacinta Gil, Lorenzo Cifre, Michavila, Cillero, Balaguer, Nassio, Alfaro, Castellano …
Occasionally Eusebio Sempere came, who I didn’t know. I think he was in France. He preached in favour of what was abstract. Vitoria and Montesa, impressed by Klee and Kandinsky, followed him.
A fellow called Portolés edited an art magazine. Sometimes the discussions were violent. We often went to the Mateo gallery, an expert and informed man. Alfaro and I were self-taught and I seriously considered whether or not I was capable of achieving what these impetuous young people could. Without hardly having been to school, I had my doubts.
Monjalés came to my studio to prepare the first individual exhibition.
I studied by watching him work and took note of his models, as I was interested in searching for discoveries. I still have things from those times.
Ortega y Gasset left us shortly after returning here: student unrest in Madrid. Amongst the intellectual rebels are Aranguren, Lain, Ridruejo …
Never again would nonsense be written in Spanish in the Spanish press.
I broke off my friendship with Ridruejo, with whom I sympathised; he made me see many things clearly.
Religious concern whilst the word Existentialism is being heard.
I get hold of a book of poems by Vicent Andrés Estellés.
I consider myself emancipated and experienced, tormented, by my reckoning.
I had decided what I was going to do from then on, whether good or bad it would be “mine”. Barcelona tempted me.
Everything is different there and very serious. Even the priests.
I was convinced that inside me was an artist and that I would never be a negotiator.
Long illness, surgery “in articulo mortis” but which I overcame.
From this ruin of a man I still have self portrait sketches.
I settled in the town where I had got married, and start work in a motorbike factory.
I wanted to paint. I started to work: Neocubism.
At work the atmosphere was revolutionary politico-social or Catalanism.
Immigrants. People with reprisals. I get know Jordi Solé Tura, expelled from the university.
I am obliged to travel. Easy, comfortable. Free time.
Very instructive free tourism: museums, exhibitions, monuments.
I “study” philosophy and art (the dehumanisation of Ortega’s art).
I come to the conclusion that Spanish fascism combines Castillian with the “indigestion” of Ortegan ideas.
I make Christmas cards and manage to sell some. The managers do not like the motorbike posters. Not everything is gold here.
Personal incident at work. An honest priest helps me. I do an oil painting ridiculing “my friends” inspired in the phrase by Cambó “we are a race of shopkeepers”. The priest sees my works and refers me to Cirici Pellicer.
The critic takes an interest in my work. He recommends “Santi Suró” from the Salon de Mayo and “Josep Maria de Sucre”. I am received with amiability.
Cirici chose two of my works for the Granollers Prize. Two abstract oil paintings, one of them being a “Lorca” theme. They were liked. I made friends.
I am out of work.
Nervous depression. I investigate Freud’s writings.
Surrealism exercises, which I soon get tired of: as for Dalí, I am most interested in his clownish geniality.
I settle in Barcelona with all my family.
A psychiatrist employs me for a publicity firm.
My colleagues understand me, the “bosses”don’t. Vulgar mentalities, dissected.
I go to the “Salón de Mayo”. A construction of informal pretensions.
Elaborate. Of certain dignity, but … To be amongst well known names encourages me.
The Joan Miró Prize is organised in the “Cercle A. de Sant Lluc”.
Two tachism sketches done in Indian ink are deeply commented. Honorific mention.
I am obsessed by informalism. I soon realise that informalism and “Tapies” are the same thing, and also definitive. In spite of that, I manage ‘tachism” very well.
I experiment, practice. Days of worry and defeat.
I make “Tachist” Christmas cards. “They look Japanese”. They are sold in the paper shop of Moix. That’s where I got to know Joan Fuster. Valencians all. The discredit of reality.
“SERRA D’OR”: Espriu, Foix, Pere Quart, Triadú, Maria Aurelia Campmany.
Raimon, Maria Carme Girau, Porter Moix …
“De Sucre” lived in absolute poverty. He wrote his memoirs. I typed them. We mutually helped each other. I learned a lot from him. Great friendship till his death.
I applied my paper “tachism” to large frame and sent it to the Granollers prize. Cirici praised it in his speech.
Elche: Bronze medal for another “tachist” drawing.
Previously, based on Modigliani, I did some textural styles, hidden figures of decapitated women, head to toe as in a tin of sardines.
Cirici liked it and I gave it to him. Yours is Iyric. But it is in the ugly spectacle of life where I see “lyric beauty”.
Beauty, monstrosity, oppression, hunger, fear, poverty … Lumberproletarianism. Prostitution. Pornography …….. Lumber-proletarian lyric.
How can all this be put down in abstract form on a canvas?
Wilhelm Reich. Puts out the religious fire of hell. Enough of fantasies! Fossilised libido returns to life and is liberated. Hours and hours spent watching the drunken tarts of the “Calle Tàpies” of Barcelona, of the “Calle Vinatea” of Valencia.
I’m fascinated by repulsion: I need to “say” this “Iyric”.
I need to shout a denunciation of the condemned woman.
I’ll search in the darkest, most dramatic and most degraded prostituted areas.
Machistic strains: cannibals of fresh sexual flesh. Truth is also ugly and comes from there. It is not fair to hide it. It must be censured.
My voice accuses the social shame of begging tarts, selling old sex, exhausted. Old whores, dried brains, distorted bodies.
Evangelical prostitutes pass before us. I’ll paint your syphilitic lips with the tenderness of my paintbrush. Virgins of sin, I’ll paint your old open tortured flower of sex.
“PREMIO YNGLADA GUILLOT”. Woman about to give birth.
“EXPOSICION D’ART SACRE”. Black and white abstract heart of Christ (Theillard de Chrdín nomination).
“PREMIO JOAN MIRO”. Abstracts referring to a dark and hidden world of loneliness, tortured and tranquil at the same time. Immersed in this I “see” into the distance with great clarity, fleeing from an insufferable kingdom.
The basis of creativity is suffering and poverty.
Birth pains must be suffered. Our entrails are tortured when we see our wife and children suffering hunger. We have to live on the border of the most hellish and horrible insanity.
I can paint, provided I have a reason to shout out that the world is not a feudalism of wealth. Because underneath this luxurious and vulgar crust is the hot and vigorous breath of those who suffer, who are the majority. Of those who seek for the truth, they are the best. Only they move the world!
I say this rejecting colours and paintbrushes. I make a hole in the canvas to “enter” or to “leave”, building volume with paste, sawdust, wood …
The man of flesh and blood thinks and feels as Unamuno did. As I do.
I choose a module of classical rhythm with the classical whiteness of Greek marble.
The man: thinking, feeling, virility.
New figure: I had found it.
INDIVIDUAL IN THE ATENEU, BARCELONA
I develop my discovery of the “Salon the Mayo” of Barcelona, but in three versions.
One is an “aquatinta” which I had been doing with ink on paper. With volume and penetrations, I show the “lair” of whereabouts, hidden I see “a lukewarm and pessimistic exit”. Another is an aesthetic idea, limited to some apparently abstract “constructions”, but referring to absurd machinery and architecture. The final one is a development of
“EL HOMBRE DE CARNE Y HUESO” (The man of flesh and blood) searching to express the repressed and hidden world of prohibited sex and pain.
This exhibition was in the ATENEU, BARCELONA. The prologue was by Vicent Aguilera Cerni. It was well accepted by critics, public and colleagues.
GRUPO V FORMA (Group vs Form). I founded this together with Coma Estadella, Rodríguez Cruells, Kaydeda, Rey Polo and the sculptor Aulestia. The first itinerant exhibition was held at the “Instituto Francés”. It was opened by Cirici, who praised my contribution. After thanking him, he offered to make the prologue of the first sample exhibition to be held.
In Valencia I showed the same thirty works which I had shown in Barcelona,
Welcomed by my friends on my return. New values in Valencia.
Chronic team. Reality team. Brave politico-social protest. I knew Genovés from the “Salón de Mayo”. Prologues by Fuster and Cirici.
I was interviewed by Dasi Jr., Camara and Sentís Esteve.
The difference between Valencian and Catalan had still not been discovered. Probably due to that, the Catalan I expressed in my ínterviews went down well (“Las Provincias” praised the songs of Raimon).
The divorce between intellectuals and the situation was evident.
As time went by I was building my own ideology.
The Valencian essence was very clear to me. I miss the use of the written language, the bookshops of Barcelona filled with Catalan literature.
I debated between Marx and anarchism. Theillard de Chardín, Diez Alegría found Christ in the movement.
My friend Llena did “art-pobre” and “art-efímero”. He had left the Capuchin monks of Sarrià.
I start to become tired of my work.
A huge white painting for the “Salón de Mayo”: refers to Franchist tyranny. The authorities don’t realise this. The following year I prepare a sort of sculpture-falla “to be hung”, which makes fun of the projected restoration. I had to choose several works to be one year in the Museum of Barcelona. I discussed this with someone. Everything transcended and was finally vetoed. We substituted it by a protest painting against “barraquismo” (abject poverty), as denounced by Paco Candel.
I shut myself away in my hometown. Drawings. Monstrous nude figure.
Every year I send works to the “MIRO”, avoiding “drawing” as much as possible. I call these “Destrellats”
Prisoner and solitary among people who do not understand me. Dumb within a human forest of trees which move and emit sounds which I do not understand.
Segrelles is old.
Kilis never leaves my house. Which of the two of us is most ill?
I have no determination. I am sent to Barcelona, where I suffer terribly. I return.
Some young artists from Alcoi visit me, They like what they see and prepare an exhibition for me in Alcoi.
I react. But, why not paint without “painting”? I combine objects which are old, useless, absurd; sometimes these are also combined with previous works of mine: “Art Gandul”. Ephemera and poverty.
Some verses of Vinyoli give me the idea of fixing some knickers to a dirty old frame with wire.
Amongst all this a blessed “live” force of the situation cries out. Toni Miró defends me and the final speech is attended by many young, healthy people of Alcoi. I make many friends.
I paint the room of “Las Meninas” empty, then place the figures according to my usual practice, distorted, monstrous, formidable, of caustic political purpose in “the other painting”.
Picasso has died. The magazines carry photos of the genius. Two of them give me an idea: I’ll stick them on to a board, not just as another collage but as protagonists of the work: as “pivot” determinative of the geometrical surrounding, architectural in the way they will be placed. I call it “APEGA,SANTS’, a flat version of ”Art Gandul”.
The picture suggests pharaonic rooms and corridors, a new way of expressing my esoteric inclination of being alone and hidden.
I do other experiments, one of them being a “black mass in honour of the catholic sorcerer Salvador Dalí’.
As I do not paint projected shadows in this interior but “my own”, I want to indicate with this an abstraction of the notion of time and I do a series of creations with interiors which are imaginary, absurd or real, where the light comes from “nowhere”. Exteriors, dead landscapes, useless artefacts.
People come from all over to the big festival of my town. I did an exhibition by hanging works from the ceiling or by erecting them on the floor like dominoes, facing the street, for the public to see. Many people took photographs of them.
This led to another scandal: an artwork called “Homenaje a Zabaleta”, based on a shameless and vulgar verse which I heard in Quesada, where there is a museum dedicated to the painter with an artwork on the same theme. I wanted to remove what was vulgar and dirty and put lyrics: rhythms of tenderness and colour disguise a couple “playing” and “moving”, doing everything implied in the erotic song. But the good man who was then Viceroy of Valencia saw it. He was very concerned about prohibiting love without an ecclesiastical licence. We both got angry and he ordered the exhibition to be cancelled. This had its compensation as the Press started to write about it. Cela included it in his ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF EROTICA and Cesáreo Rodríguez Aguilera asked me for the artwork in order to put in in the museum. Following this, I did a dozen more similar ones.
One month in France with a ballet troupe.
In Paris I was impressed by the “Beau-Bourg” and I visited it many times.
I return, impressed y “THE ENVIRONMENTS”.
The Dalí museum of Figueras. The “Fallas”. Ballet luminotechniques.
I start to wrap a corner of my house with newspaper. I wrap up every-thing I can find with newspaper. I make a flimsy statue using the same procedure. I think it looks all right. I take photos of it and reproduce prints of them. They look like newspaper photos done on bad paper. I title the work “Les petites Puces de París”. I send pictures to everyone I know and they like them.
Miró has died.
When a genius dies all the world knows about him, they talk and write.
Miró painted like children do.
When one is older one cannot do childish calligraphy.
Miró’s final work is calligraphy “without” letters.
Miró, like children, paints without any preceptive preoccupation.
I admire Miró’s discovery: his pictorial style done with primary colours. He can paint a multitude of pictures with the speed of a machine: a bottomless pit. Inimitable and very easy to imitate.
I shall do a “Fiesta Mironiana”. I shall fill a room in my old home with “poor” pillar-statues of anatomical inspiration, using fundamental colours combined with hanging “mironian” fabrics.
Albaida – January 1984