Joan Hernández Pijuán

Joan Hernández Pijuán

Barcelona, 1931- 2005

Joan Hernández Pijuan, a leading figure in Catalan and Spanish minimalism in the latter part of the 20th century, studied at Barcelona’s Escola d’Arts i Oficis de la Llotja and Escola de Belles Arts, before moving to Paris in 1957, where he studied engraving and lithography at the École des Beaux-Arts. 

Although his early work was close to gestural expressionism, he soon adopted a geometric figuration dominated by colour fields and by the presence of solitary objects such as fruit, glasses, eggs and scissors. Treated with elegance and mysticism, colour was always central to his work. On a smooth ground with passages of grey and green, Hernández Pijuan incorporated elements and mathematical references such as grids or metric tapes. Colour strips, tonal gradation, transparencies, textures and resonant light are all elements that typify the artist's work, which in the eighties incorporated elements such as the profile of a cypress tree, the furrows of the plough or the shape of a leaf, without ever abandoning abstraction. In the late eighties, Hernández Pijuan returned to Informalism, eventually developing a style of painting characterised exclusively by the use of a black-and-white palette. Atmospheric though austere, the work becomes an exercise in spirituality and inner contemplation. He also continued his work as a printmaker, producing carefully executed, monochromatic grids in series.

Following his first solo exhibition at the Museu de Mataró in 1955, he exhibited throughout Spain and internationally. His numerous retrospectives include those at the Centre Cultural Tecla Sala, Hospitalet de Llobregat (1992), Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid (1993), MACBA, Barcelona (2003) and Museum of Modern Art, Moscow (2011). His work features in the collections of Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; National Gallery, Montreal; Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; and MACBA, Barcelona, among others.

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