Geometric Abstraction and Kinetic Art: A New Pictorial Challenge to Art Informel

V. N.
Jun 11, 2016 5:10PM

Several years of abstraction and art informel eventually gave way to a desire for alternative forms to reflect the new social situation and make art an integral part of society. The Barcelona artistic and intellectual movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s had a profound influence on Josep Navarro Vives’s new creative phase. 

Motivated by the new visions and world views, during this phase Navarro embraced a pictorial challenge: geometric abstraction and kinetic art (1969 – 1976). In this innovative atmosphere of creative curiosity, Navarro established relationships with other artists like Duarte, J. Pericot, E. Sempere, F. Sobrino and Iturralde, with intellectuals such as Aguilera Cerni, Giralt-Miracle, Baltasar Porcel, Arnau Puig and Santos Torroella, and with the gallery owners René Metrás and Joan Mas. 

He not only participated in group exhibitions with all of these but joint projects as well, such as “MENTE” (Muestra Española de Nuevas Tendencias Estéticas [Spanish Showcase of New Aesthetic Trends]). According to J. Pericot, MENTE sought “an integration of the arts and to make art a part of everyday life”. As noted by Pilar Parcerisas in Conceptualismo(s) poéticos, políticos y periféricos [Poetic, Political and Peripheral Conceptualism(s)], “Other forms of reaction to art informel took place within Catalan kinetic art, through the manifestations of the MENTE group in Barcelona and the situationist and action art of Alberto Greco, the actions of Zaj, and the new pictorial strategy of the New Generation in Madrid.” 

In the second half of the 1960s Navarro’s artistic circle experienced a general desire to break with the past, a sentiment that he himself shared. In fact, the work of Josep Navarro gradually evolved towards a geometric abstraction centred around the study of movement. 

There are two clearly defined moments within the artist’s geometric abstraction period: The first (1969-1973) is associated with his constructive work, with his study of movement through modules, through repetitions of structures. During this time Josep Navarro worked with structural modules to create constructive compositions that projected a sensation of movement. The second (1973-1976) is characterised by optical vibration based exclusively on the interplay of colour and light. In a shift centred on colour and light alone, his work evolved towards optical art. Castell de Benedormiens recently hosted an exhibition of Josep Navarro Vives’s work from this period. In addition to pieces by Josep Navarro, the “Arte cinético y constructivista” [Kinetic and Constructivist Art] show featured the work of Puig Manera and Alberto Fabra, key figures in Catalan geometric abstraction and kinetic art.

V. N.