Juan Carlos Mestre, recipient of Spain’s National Prize for Poetry in 2009 for his collection La casa roja (The Red House), is also an accomplished and prolific visual artist. His paintings and prints are dense with iconic images and rich textures that lay a fertile groundwork for provocative and profound readings and interpretations, yet laced with a healthy dose of humor and irony. A casual look at representative works suggests kinship with the compositional constructions and fanciful themes of Swiss artist Paul Klee. A closer examination reveals sublime references to iconographies reminiscent of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso — idealized human forms, musical instruments, and implements of daily life sharing surfaces with organic and geometric textures and patterns that are forever in unrest — the detritus of a working community. At the same time, both Klee and Picasso, and now Mestre, tend to work with repetitive forms and elements that suggest the use of a very personal visual vocabulary often responsive to external social and political forces. Themes of exile, emigration, and disenfranchisement in Mestre’s art and poetry constitute the point of departure for a discussion of the unknown. While emigration stems from a complex set of causations, the emigrant, once uprooted, invariably experiences significant personal self-doubt and uncertainty.
|Keywords:||Spanish Poetry and Art, Emigration, Exile, Unknown|
Professor of Spanish, Humanities, Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Professor of Art, Fine Arts, Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky, USA