JUAN SÁNCHEZ: LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE

Ricardo Forriols

 

My name is Erik Satie, like everybody else.

Erik Satie

 

His name is Juan Sánchez, like everybody else, and this is his first solo exhibition in a gallery, an exhibition which with its brand new title: Sometimes it helps to misunderstand history, begins with a curious idea: to be absent-minded helps and can be courageous; an idea which, he explains, is articulated by two misunderstandings, namely:

Misunderstanding 1. When the young Kandinsky visited the exhibition of the impressionists in Moscow in 1895 and was captivated in front of one of the haystacks painted by Monet. He didn´t understand what he saw, though unlikely, he did not see what had been painted on the canvas but the contrasts of colour and those strokes surprised him so much that he confused the shape without managing to understand the image until he searched for the title of that small canvas between the list of exposed pictures. Well, like papers used to say it was only a pile of hay but it turned out very beautifully.

Misunderstanding 2. When in 1908, Kandinsky came back to the studio from one of his evening walks around Murnau and contemplated with surprise, perhaps with alarm, the beauty and power of a canvas on the easel on which he saw only a coloured surface without any trace of representation. As he approached to pick it up between his hands, he realised with confusion that it was one of the landscapes that he had been working on which had been inverted and that, as he saw it upside down, had lost any anchoring to reality or the earth.

The memory of these two inspirational moments in Kandinsky´s life, that he reveals in his biography Retrospective view, serves then to better understand Juan Sánchez´s proposal if we think that 1) Kandinsky did not see at first what Monet had really painted in his picture because he was more aware of the painting work than the painted image, he still needed the words of the title in order to contrast what he saw; and 2) Kandinsky approached the bases of the abstraction reading Worringer, listening to Schönberg and turning his pictures over, is what makes them different, strange, new. Seeing them turned upside down? Perhaps against the light? This will be crucial since Juan Sánchez´s first misunderstanding was thinking that Kandinsky discovered that strange thing in his landscape —like Monet´s haystack— not by being upside down, but on the contrary viewed from the rear and with back lighting, confusing the history.

The ease, the irony and the necessary freedom of interpretation of the history of painting and its recent tradition are in no way at odds with the series of pictures that are flawlessly made, for neat, even the small amount of paint and the first extreme simplicity, it reveals very concrete works, compact and effective that turn the picture into an indicator, following Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, which risks its life with itself only with its values, a whole, with its keys, what history has been given to it.

One of these is the form, that will be autonomous or won’t. But it’s him who would explain this, if necessary.

On the other hand, the importance given the object-hood of the picture as support of the paint. An importance which lies in denouncing its presence, which gives form and surface to the canvas but turning its frontality; in underlining its being, leaving the stretcher frame to be seen and to actively participate in the composition, by transparency, even deciding; on giving large part of protagonism to separate spaces and articulate its differenced installation on the wall or on the soil or in the corners or combined with found objects.

Moreover, the incorporation of light as a phenomenon, like a slight glaze from the back, that electric light, sometimes a simple reflection, which in its own way it turns bare the whole picture like a display and it makes its theatre box go up in smoke, like we could see against the light, as confused as Kandinsky, that landscape from Murnau any afternoon in 1908.

I write this while the day dawns on the beaches of the Mediterranean, which would make no difference if it wasn´t so late now so early and if I didn’t feel like Ortega writing near to Lisbon about Velázquez, without his books nor his notes, from memory. I write without my books nor my notes nor internet connection, unable to visit through the little window of the computer Juan Sánchez´s studio which is his blog (www.adondelohago.blogspot.com.es), where one can find the bases of his work, his plastic alphabet made step by step, the definition of the autonomous form and almost all the evidence or possibilities to keep up painting misunderstanding the history, like everybody else, even if it be almost without paint.

 

RICARDO FORRIOLS, Area leaflet, Solo show A veces confundir la Historia ayuda (Sometimes it helps to misunderstand history, T20 Gallery, Murcia, Spain, 2014.