Juan Genovés, Ágora

15 March - 17 April 2024

Opera Gallery is pleased to host Juan Genovés's first solo exhibition in Paris, Ágora. This travelling exhibit, which started in Singapore last November, showcases works created between 2006 and the artist's death in 2020, as well as a series of metal sculptures from 2004.


Juan Genovés and his art emerged during the oppressive Franco dictatorship (1939-1975). Initially informal, Genovés's commitment to freedom led him to join significant post-war Spanish art groups. In the 1960s, Genovés's art became more figurative, adopting a provocative, expressionist painting style. He later transitioned to collage in the 1970s, embracing political realism. His most renowned piece, El Abrazo (The Embrace), commissioned in 1976 for the amnesty of political prisoners, became a symbol of the Spanish democratic transition (1975-1982). This universally significant work also represents the reconciliation of the Spaniards who fought during the dictatorship. Now a national emblem, the painting has been permanently displayed in the Congress building in Madrid since 2016.


Juan Genovés remained committed to his political ideals throughout his life. His strong advocacy for democracy and social justice, and his opposition to the Franco regime, inform the two primary themes of his work: the individual and the crowd. The artist explores the dynamics of dictatorship by juxtaposing these two concepts.


Genovés's seemingly simple, almost abstract paintings conceal a more complex interpretation. Upon closer inspection, every character is unique, distinguished by individual attitudes and the use of real clothes and objects glued directly onto the canvas. The individual becomes a multitude, viewed from a bird's-eye perspective, almost akin to a cinematic scene. The crowd, silent and dispersed, is portrayed as miniature shadows. In Genovés's work, the human mass becomes an anonymous, recurring theme of history. Power, persecution, resistance, and displacement are some of the timeless themes that continue to resonate with viewers.


This exhibition showcases the humanistic and poetic legacy Juan Genovés leaves behind, as well as his message of universal relevance. His near-obsessive exploration of the human condition reflects his belief in art as a means of societal contribution.

Exhibition photography © Studio SLB