July-September 2015

Joan Ponç. L'enigma


The exhibition, in collaboration with Pilar Parcerisas, critic and curator of exhibitions, included a selection of sixteen artworks among which paintings and drawings from the years 1947 to 1968, as well as the documentary about the artist Joan Ponç-J.V.Foix “La pell de la pell”.


Joan Ponç (Barcelona 1927-1984 Saint Paul de Vence) was a loner and visionary painter cursed; crazy, as some have described it. The artist was one of the creators of the magazine Dau al Set with other painters such as: Antoni Tàpies, Modest Cuixart, Joan Tharrats and the poet Joan Brossa and the philosopher Arnau Puig. It is the artist who was more faithful to the principles of the group throughout his career.


Ponç is one of the most relevant painters of the Spanish postwar and we are running for second time an individual show at the gallery –the previous one was in 2002-. It’s a good chance to recall his works and his universal talent.


Mayoral Galeria d’Art works to promote the work of artists that represents and works with families to ensure their legacies. This show has been carried out in collaboration of Associació Joan Ponç and his widow, Mar Corominas. For this reason, the proposal focuses on defending and valuing the artist.


Text by Pilar Parcerisas:


"The Ponç enigma referes not only to his painting but to the hellish depths of the human being, where he plunged to come up purified and redeemed. In order to undertake this journey into the unfathomable hells of this world, he made use of the art of painting, which penetrated into his veins until it became his blood. As he wrote in his Diary of São Paulo: "The funny thing is that precisely this hot blood that painting gives me is the same cold blood that gives me life". Therefore, although hot-blooded and visceral in his painting, he was a realist as regards matters of everyday life.

The painting of Joan Ponç keeps raising questions about life and death, about light and darkness. For Joan Ponç, external life is night, whereas inside the human being there is light, which is where the painting comes from. His paintings, however, are made of crucial gestures, graphic deep cuts that represent a checkmate for the painting in each and every line, in each dot, in each decision. The spindle-legged and filiform characters of his fictions walk through night and sidereal spaces, illuminated, like himself, by his inner phosphorescences. They are the various Ponçs who live inside Joan Ponç.

With the complicity of Joan Brossa, he coloured with magic the first years of the magazine Dau al Set (1948-1951); and, after meeting Joan Miró, he gave up the crucifixions in the style of Rouault to per embrace a world much closer to the avant-garde. Brossa had talked on many occasions about the phantasmagorical space in the painter’s house where the howls of her autistic sister echoed around a big room that served as a furniture repository run by his family and which spurred his hallucinations. Painting is his north, his compass. Joan Ponç is a shipwreck victim who is able to survive because he jumps onto the boat of painting: "Painting is my north, my only worry is to follow it, just go north [... ] Painting is my existence. Without it, I wouldn’t exist. Life is a secondary place where I paint, and the universe is organized to make this divine act possible".

Joan Ponç is a painter of direct emotions; he does not intend to transform the world, he just wants to be one with painting. His anxieties are close to those of Kafkas, his pictorial scream draws near to Artaud’s existential death, and the whole universe can connect with his being. But, on the other hand, Ponç is a classic in the pictorial kitchen, and every canvas or drawing corresponds to his personal treatise on painting, which has in the horizon the painting of Cézanne.

After the period of Dau al Set, ten years in Brazil —between 1953 and 1963—, turned him into a stranger in our country. The legend of his madness spreads and he speaks of his commitment to art teaching in this new country of primitive rituals and rainforest insects. His paintings get full of Caps (Heads) and Ocells (Birds), and this last series earned him the International Drawing Great Prize in the Bienal de São Paulo, in 1965. Upon his return to Catalonia, in 1963, the art gallery owner René Metras and Joan Perucho encouraged him to get involved in the country’s artistic life, and the following year Ponç exhibits again in Barcelona, in the art gallery René Métras.

Finally, during the 60s, Fernando Guereta promotes his work and decides to represent him. At that time, Guereta is also the agent of the flamenco dancer Antonio Gades. As a result of this happy coincidence, Joan Ponç created the drawings and designs for the ballet Don Juan, which highlighted even more the theatrical character of his work.

Joan Ponç is one and many at the same time, he gave pictorial legitimacy to Dau al Set, and already then the critics wrote: "[...] Joan Ponç, with his merits and his faults, equals Joan Ponç". And so it has been until the end of his career."




Joan Ponç exhibition at Mayoral gallery


Joan Ponç. L'enigma


Rediscovering Ponç, a postwar genious