Joan Rom
Spain, 1954
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Although he started out as a painter, Joan Rom soon moved more towards sculpture and in 1986 he presented his first pieces in rubber, which had a major influence on the direction his artistic career would take. In the mid-eighties, artists like Rom who had trained as painters saw that “between painting and sculpture there was a space that offered a certain degree of freedom to move beyond academic encumbrances” and that they could use their knowledge of painting to enrich sculpture. Similar positions were held by many other artists of the same generation who revamped Spanish sculpture in the eighties—names such as Juan Muñoz, Jordi Colomer, Txomin Badiola, Juan Luis Moraza and Pepe Espaliú, among many others. As Rom said when he was first starting out, he saw himself as less of a sculptor than an artist who drew with the things he found on his long walks, picking up bits and pieces, basically rubber, but also plastic, stones, bones, glass, etc. After moving to Reus, he used all the materials he found in the rubbish tips and empty lots on the outskirts of town to create metaphors that play, for example, on the ambiguity of a material like rubber, which for him is halfway between natural and industrial. But he also used other materials such as wool to cover his amorphous volumes, which clearly alluded to parts of the human body, and furs, partly from articles of clothing, which also suggested a certain corporeality. His sculptural drawings in rubber, most of them placed against a wall, are partly a response to ideas promoted by sculptors belonging to the Arte Povera and Anti-Form movements, including the Americans Robert Morris, Richard Serra and Eva Hesse and the Italians Giovanni Anselmo and Mario Merz. On the other hand, his sculptural pieces in which he combines materials such as brass, rubber, copper, aluminium, fur, etc. are a “series of votive offerings placed on their respective copper tables. Isolated objects, groups of symmetrical or asymmetrical objects that appear to need each other, belong to the world of prayer, superstition or primitive belief structures […] When he brings the tables of these votive offerings together, Rom is once again playing with tensions in counterpoint, as if by thinking about the limits in his own mind, he were able to discover a poetry in constant metamorphosis.” In 1989 this was how critic Kevin Power characterised this sculptural series, which the artist described as “trays”, when it was presented in Madrid. In 1997, right at the moment he was starting to consolidate a brilliant artist career, Joan Rom wrote: “I think that painting a picture or creating a sculpture is more than simply painting a picture or creating a sculpture; it’s important if you have a reason for doing it, but it can also be the most banal thing in the world.” This might be why in 1998 he decided to take up teaching and stop producing art completely. This decision coincided with his exhibition Cures i berrugues at the Galeria Estrany • De la Mota in Barcelona; the following year this exhibition won a mention in the Visual Arts category at the City of Barcelona Awards.
Glòria Picazo

Artworks by the artist included in the Collection Artworks by the artist included in the Collection

  • Untitled / 1986

  • Untitled / 1987

  • Footprint / 1988