Joan Pedragosa :: The sculpture of Joan Pedragosa: Space, Geometry and Colour

The sculpture of Joan Pedragosa: Space, Geometry and Colour

José Corredor-Matheos
Barcelona, July 16th, 2001

Sculpture involves the exploration of space. However, it is always difficult to come up with assertions about something that is not subject to strict rationality, something that opens up to the exploration of mystery and which, deep down, is ineffable. Likewise, we could say that sculpture consists of creating space.

In our Western culture it did not seem plausible for the plastic arts – and not only poetry and music – to also unfold in time. Yet time and space acquire a special celerity in our day and age. As well as changing positions and thereby varying space itself, mobiles introduce the time factor as a result of movement. Space and time consummate and consume the reality of physical bodies, they make them alive. Present sculpture seems to move and vary in shape and situation to the rhythm marked by the passage of a time and space unfolding in new realms.

Joan Pedragosa offers a personal response to this new conception of sculpture.

He clearly perceives that art always accompanies man on his travels, and that sculpture can reflect this travelling condition in a symbolic and also truly effective manner. In order to do so, the work of art had to relieve itself of matter.

The entire history of contemporary sculpture has entailed a process of dematerialisation. Structural investigations, the introduction of iron by González and the predominance of concept over the materiality of the work moved in this direction. A sculpture will no longer continue to be something determined, fixed on a spot where time and space intersect, but instead something that can move from one place to another, just as the individual and collective addressees of the work of art move about.

On our increasingly frequent travels we are able to physically take the sculptures of this unique artist away with us, while the works acquire the metaphorical and symbolical value of another Journey, of another, seemingly unknown, destination.

It is not a question of denying the materiality of the work of art but of attempting to establish a closer relationship with a spectator, who is also a user in a more direct sense.

These sculptures are of a size that befits their function, and can be assembled and dismantled with ease. Their spatial unfolding enables them to be steadily installed on different surfaces, susceptible of becoming perfectly flat. The lightweight materials employed are PVC, fibreglass rods, beech wood, threads of nylon, tubes of flexible silicone, ecological card and corrugated cardboard.

Travel sculpture, which Bruno Munari spoke of around 1960, is an object you are familiar with as it forms a part of your surroundings, yet once it is moved to another unknown spot, it becomes a point of reference establishing a link between the commonplace and an indistinct environment such as a hotel. As a result of our contemplation of it, or of its mere presence, this artistic object is able to awaken feelings of peace and relaxation.

To be able to take certain sculptures away with us, to let art itself accompany us and display it here or there, on a hotel table or bedside table, on any of the stages in our journey, on holiday or in the surroundings of our usual place of residence… Is this not what nomadic peoples did? Are we not increasingly regaining the feeling of being nomads, of erecting our tents in different spots and of carrying everything around with us?

Lengthy preparations are required for this adventure, such as those afforded by the aesthetic, technical and professional knowledge of Joan Pedragosa. The materials are the result of laborious preliminary studies. Nonetheless, or perhaps for this reason precisely, they are extremely simple.

Yet, should not all art be clear and in any event, simple? All is clear in these works. The shapes are sharply silhouetted in space. They are geometric – all art has a geometric soul – their profiles are either rounded or straight. In fact they are planes that either bend or inter-penetrate one another, fine rods that indicate directions, although as a sign of what seems to be the ultimate indeterminate nature of the world we call real these directions are susceptible of alteration, and the arrow pointing north can instead point south, if and when it is not endeavouring to steer us towards unknown goals that do not correspond to the cardinal points.

Colour is important. In ancient cultures it always was important although, once Greek statuary lost its bright Oriental colour, Westerners seemed to feel a strange reserve or fear before all explicit implications of a full and ultimately mysterious life, focussing their attention on white marble, on the natural colour of stone and the darkness of bronze.

Only wood welcomed colour so as to express a feeling we could consider religious or profound if we prefer, in a vision of a world as real as it is unreal, a world which being visible, emerges from the invisible.

The colours of Joan Pedragosa’s sculptures are bright, of a brightness that refers us back to daily life, while their purity, uniformity, artificiality – art is necessarily as natural as it is artificial – transport us to an abstract realm where everything is genuine, and sensations are free from all speculation, where reason and intuition are reconciled. Whole colours which are either pure or have gradations of shades and nuances, these reds, yellows, blues and whites combined with the dun tonality of the cardboard, compose a harmonious system that excludes drama and unrefined feelings, where everything is pure or almost pure, as Jorge Guillén claimed for poetry.

Poetry defines this artist’s sculpture, poetry characterised by a soft and penetrating lyricism, placid and soothing, the most suitable to accompany us on our travels and on the Journey. In these works it expresses and accomplishes the long history of the avant-garde developed throughout the twentieth century. In the century we have just initiated, this year 2001 with its echoes of the mythical Space Odyssey, art has the diversity of the forms of life in their process of continual transformation.

Art undergoes transformation and as virtually and effectively evinced in these magnificent works by Joan Pedragosa, it is prepared to travel. It is not necessarily ephemeral, though it does accept this condition. It is conceived and prepared for a continual journey and to adjust to a diversity of locations and dispositions and yet, like the art of all ages, like the spirit of men of all ages, it circles around a fixed point, a centre located at very deep levels where the fine membrane separating our interior space from the world we call real fades away, a place where time is arrested and space disappears.

So, art travels or moves round this inconceivable point. These sculptures created by Joan Pedragosa, as fragile as they are well structured and solidly built, of bright cheerful colours, also revolve around the point where the true meaning of art resides.