Master, are you coming or going? “I always go, but I also think about the return, I can imagine it, because I am very old and that is the limit. I am going, because the return I identify with death ”. This morning, Juan Genovés Candel, the famous Valencian painter, anti-Franco fighter, creator of a unique iconography has stopped going. He was preparing a new exhibition, as always tireless, dedicating all his energies to creation, or as he said “to work, to work, to work”, He climbed the 16 steps of his studio in Madrid, and there he became, each day a little more deadly and, at the same time, a little more immortal. Just the day Jasper Johns, another legendary artist, turns 90, Genovés has stopped painting. “Short no, life is what it is, the moment. I don’t look back or forward, I look at the moment and that’s it ”.
The painter, cousin of the writer Paco Candel, would have turned 90 at the end of this month; Gone is the day Jasper Johns blows 90 candles
There remains his work, his acts, his ideas, his passion for football, which he carried in his blood, a very fine sense of humor, his eremitism and a critical and public success that has no intention of disappearing: “Perhaps it is that the crowd in the pictures is calling the crowd. What matters to me is that at five in the morning I am working quietly in my studio and that is ideal ”, He confessed to the magazine of this newspaper a few months ago in an interview carried out at the Marlborough gallery (stamp of fundamental artists of contemporary art), who signed him very young.
Genovés is very popular for his painting
, hidden many years in the warehouses of the Museo Reino Sofía, which became a symbol of a Spanish Transition of which the artist, over the years, was disappointed. Years later, the painting would become a sculpture next to the Antón Martín metro station in Madrid that pays tribute to the Atocha lawyers murdered by the far-right. However, in the last decades there are paintings depicting crowds and loneliness, people who come or flee, flows that connect with the most rabid modernity, which crowned it with an absolute reference who continued to raise passions, for example in the last edition of Arco, held days before the start of confinement.
Genovés spent the last years of his life painting the same painting and always a different painting. None was like any other. Something not easy, something almost impossible. The process had its intricacies, its relation to the work that it painted as well. Sometimes the dialogue between author and work was perfect, sometimes it was complicated, sometimes the fight was intense. Pictures in quarantine or battered. Bangs and screams. He explained it in an attack of sincerity five years ago: Does he speak to the painting? What does it tell you? “When someone crosses my path, I tell him everything, ‘motherfucker, motherfucker, I can’t handle you, you’re fucking with me, I don’t know what to do to you.’ I’m alone in the studio and I scream, nobody hears me, that’s how I get free too. Then the painting is cornered there, I go, I turn it and see if it is still facing me. They are things that happen to me ”.
Dialogue with the work
Sometimes I talk to the paintings, someone crosses my path and I tell him everything, you bastard, son of a bitch, I can’t handle you, you’re fucking with me, I don’t know what to do to you ”
Genovés, who was friends with great painting geniuses like Francis BaconHe was not a painter who liked painters, but his works were. Looking back, he was very proud to have met Marcel Duchamp and having spoken at length with him, sometimes in Catalan (Duchamp learned something on his visits to Cadaqués). The Valencian painter, first cousin of the writer Paco Candel, son and nephew of players from Valencia CF, the club of his loves, lived in Madrid, but he moved to Valencia to see his team (had a devotion to Gaizka Mendieta) and to an apartment he had in El Perelló, a ninth floor from which only the sea was visible.
Shy and funGenovés, a man of republican convictions, was always very critical of the country’s left-wing parties (he did not name those on the right) and He wished that the values that he lived in his own flesh as an anti-Franco activist had been better resisted with the arrival of democracy. She did not like to talk about the meaning of her paintings because her work by herself, now even more so. A living legend for almost 90 years, Genovés has crossed the threshold of the greats and has gone back up the steps of his studio to become essential. “I’ve become a hermit now, huh? Before, I never was nor was I locked in the ivory tower. When one is old, energy is no longer the same. The trick that I have sought is to be very strong in my own and distribute that energy. If it is 40%, I am in my business, in my work… ”.