Pepe Bernal: Luminous and sensitive abstraction



Born in Huércal-Overa, a town already close to the border with Murcia, and in which he died on the 22nd as a result of the heart ailment he suffered from, Pepe Bernal trained in Valencia, which is where artists from the province used to study at the time. easternmost part of Andalusia. Soon he would return to his cradle, where in 1981 he participated in a well-remembered collective homage to Picasso, inaugurated by Santiago Amón. He combined the practice of painting with his position as a drawing teacher at the institute.

We discovered the work of Pepe Bernal in 1990, when his colleague and classmate Ginés Cervantes embarked us on that adventure of bringing together a few local painters of the new generation, in an exhibition organized by the Institute of Almeria Studies, and that, after appearing in the Patio de Luces of the Diputación, circulated inside and outside the province.

The thesis came to be that Almería was no longer just the Indaliano. The selected ones moved, with ease, in the waters of their time, feeling the impact of the proposals published by ‘1980’, ‘Madrid DF’ and other collectives with a similar spirit. In 1992, the person from Huercal, affable, cordial, much loved by his colleagues, would be one of those selected in the first edition of the long-awaited art courses organized by the Mojácar City Council, in which the best of the emerging Spanish generation participated. . Another important collective in which he appeared was, in 2007, the one that Gádor Sánchez Barazas and Ramón Crespo curated for the Archaeological Museum of Almería in homage to Juan Goytisolo, whose work he referred to from its own title: ‘Campos de Níjar: Morada sin memory’. Eight later, he participated in another at the MECA center, in tribute to the memory of José Guerrero.

I do not mention the great Granada in vain. Bernal’s work is inscribed in his wake, and in that of Motherwell or Rothko, both friends of the former, and in that of Esteban Vicente (the opposite of friend…), and in that of Ràfols Casamada or Mompó, to name a few. of the headlights of the deceased. The Huercaleño’s paintings are generally large, and sometimes articulated as polyptychs, which can reach four meters wide. Bright paintings, and wide breathing. Lyrical and sensitive as well as rigorous, the yellows, the reds, the oranges, the blues, the blacks sing in them… Serene titles: ‘The hours’, ‘The thread of shadows’, ‘Poema de cal’ , ‘Movement on lemon cadmium’… Others, taken from pieces by Satie: ‘Gymnopédies’, ‘Gnossiennes’… It also has minimal wooden constructions, almost torresgarciesque. Essential and sovereign painting, which in 2012 could be seen at the Casa Ibáñez Museum in Olula del Río, in the blessed Almanzora valley. Then that show, ‘Abstraction in a Mediterranean key’, traveled to the capital of the province, precisely to the Diputación, and to the Sala Hospital del Rey, in Melilla.

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