Friday, May 14, 2010

Juan Carlos Cardesin

Hidden Landscape IV - watercolor, 28 x 42 cm

Juankar Cardesin is an artist in San Sebastian, Spain. It would hardly scratch the surface to refer to him as a watermedia artist because his work is all over the map -- not just medium-wise, but also in subject matter and handling. It's hard to put into words what he does, it really must be seen. And felt. However, following the initial shock of stumbling over his blog (thanks to another heavyweight San Sebastian painter and compadre, Enrique Ochotorena), I came to two conclusions about his art:

1. He is absolutely fearless, or, alternatively, he is terrified of everything.

2. He is an extraordinarily sensitive person, responding like litmus paper to his environment.

I should explain. I believe Juan will paint or draw anything, and in the way he feels at the moment -- something that is very, very difficult to do without succumbing to self-doubt, and that artistic governor that shuts down the motor when things get too far afield. There is an honesty in that approach that is enviable. But in attempting to analyze it, I wonder about the presence of a yin yang gene that, instead, drives the artist through fear and awe; fear, if nothing else, in the prospect of losing an idea or precious flash of inspiration. This is a raw artist, exposed nerve endings in a constant state of flux, without buffer or filtering mechanism between heart and canvas. This guy won't make you question whether or not he is an artist, but whether or not you are! And that, is scary.

In artspeak, Juan might be characterized as a sort of Expressionist-Deconstructionist-Minimalist, with notes of Picasso, Schiele, Mauricio Lasansky, and Euro-trashism. Decay is a major feature in much of his work, be it human or industrial. The painting above, Hidden Landscape IV, is watercolor on Martele Damier paper, which is a synthetic surface similar to Yupo. This painting arrived on my doorstep out of nowhere last December, which tells you something else about the artist: he's a wonderful and generous man. We've become quite good friends via the Internet, and it was my loss last fall when my planned trip to San Sebastian fell through. I did experience a Cardesin-induced near-cardiac-arrest when I beheld his magnificent Shining Mountains while judging the Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolor Biennial (shown below with our mutual friend, Javier Oña, a great painter from Cadiz, Spain).

Shining Mountains - watercolor, 65 x 95 cm

Going to Juan's blog is always a chest-pounding adventure, you never know what you're about to see. And good luck trying to keep up with him -- he's incredibly prolific! He has what a departed friend of mine, jazz pianist Fred Williams, used to call "the worm." The term refers to musicians and artists who are so compelled to create, they simply cannot stop, cannot rest. I've said that true artists are explorers, and Juan Carlos Cardesin is one of the trailblazers.

Juan Carlos Cardesin links:





Micah Neff said...

Oh my gosh...his stuff is wild! What a trip! I REALLY love
"Like Shadows V"

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing, Nick, and congratulations to Juan Carlos.
I just discover the artist and his magnificient works.
It is always wonderful to meet other influences, inspirations and techniques. Sharing about art is maybe the most precious and beautiful part in this business !

I'm just back from a 3-weeks period of exhibitions and meetings with artists from Europe and Canada. I'll have a lot of stories to tell !

Did you receive my e-mail about the Tour in July ?
Best wishes,


cardesin said...

Hi Nick!
It was a great surprise and exciting this post.
I really admire the brave and honest!, I admire all his work in music and painting!, And leaves me amazed your generosity!.
You Nick is one of the greatest!. You see beyond ... can distinguish the emotion in art!. and therefore you are a great teacher for me!.
Many, thank you very much Nick
Your friend Juankar

Annaquarel.les said...

Hi Nick,

I couldn't agree more with your description about Juankar's work and I'd like to thank you very much for having written such a deserved and generous post.
The first time I bumped into Juankar's site, I was flabbergasted. It had nothing to do with what I had seen in watercolour before. There were not just technically well painted urban landscapes or beautiful striking heads. There was something else I hadn't found in any site before: there was soul.
They had not just been painted for the sake of pleasing clients. They were drawing my attention because they made me ponder on the message they were trying to convey, the powerful story beyond the canvas.

Juankar's paintings are full of meaningful,thoughtful,personal connections with his world. He paints from within.

Your comment about making you question whether you are an artist or not made me smile. I cannot recall how many times I thought how shallow my paintings were every time I saw his, and yes, this is very frightening.

His paintings are bold,risky and honest because like a dream or a nightmare, he cannot deny what he sees, what he feels. This is his tour de force. It just happens and has to come to the surface.

I admire and have great respect for Juankar's work and have no doubt that he is one of our most outstanding present day professional artists.

Nick, you and Juankar are birds of a feather. You are not contented with pleasing the audience. You scratch the surface and look beyond defiantly looking for meaning and content.This makes the big difference between mediocrity and mastery.


Unknown said...

Thanks for introducin me to this wonderful artist!

EmeBeZeta said...

How nice and beautifully you have written about Juankar. I also feel very touched when I see his work.
Thank you for sharing!


thankyou nick for this introduction to Juan Carlos Cardesin and also for David Burges. ..enjoyed reading and seeing a glipse of your recent trips.

Unknown said...

Excelent post and a deserved aknowlegement to JuanKar´s work.

Yep it is always surprising visiting his blog, he always expand the frontiers of the paintable subjects; he is influencing our works, our styles.
Thanks for sharing him

David Burge said...

Well said Nick.
Juan's work is real!

Carlos León Salazar said...

A very accurate view on the work of Juankar to which it is impossible to remain indifferent. Cardesín, a great artist!

Nick said...

Micah - a blog to bookmark and follow, and you'll find yourself constantly surprised and challenged

Catherine - I wouldn't be surprised if his work starts making its way toward Belgium soon, he should be getting invites to all exhibitions. Keeping my fingers crossed re the Tour, that would be a dream come true for me!

Juan - a teacher for you? Ha ha, or I should say, jejejeje. :) It's my pleasure to talk about great artists I'm honored to Catherine said ^^^^^, it's one of the best parts of this life. Looking forward to our eventual meeting! tu amigo

Anna - thank you for the fabulous post! I agree with every single word, except maybe for the part about me! I hope I'll be meeting you very soon also. Abrazos.

Patty - can you imagine the rules Dorky & Co. would have to invent to keep Juan out of their precious forum?! ha ha ha

Embezeta - nice to meet you, and it's very easy to write about things and people you love!

Jane - guys like Juan and David Burge make this life much more exciting - they keep you on your toes, and keep the senses sharp. Just received a couple of fantastic paintings from Dake, btw, yet another generous gift that will require a special post.

Alex - not to keep bringing it up, but every morning the first thing I see is the brilliant landscape you sent to me, never ceases to bring me joy. And my sincere wish is that when I meet Juan, I also somehow finally meet up with you for that long-awaited cerveza!

Dake - we know the real thing when we see it, si?!

Carlos - you're another heavyweight amigo who delivers KOs in the first round...thanks for the post!!

Nancy Lee Galloway said...

Another wonderful post on a terrific artist and personality! I love Juankar's passion and energy! Trying to keep up with him is like trying to ride a tornado.....he keeps on going and going and you are exhilarated and a bit scared (or a lot scared) to keep hanging on! :)

joel said...

ahhh Nick, such a thoughtful set of words and images. well done you. and well done Juan.

there is so much to catch up on, the great thing about your words and pictures is that it takes me in so many wonderful directions.

the brain is a wonderful organ. each day i wake up with a song in my head that has nothing to do with the previous day. why is that?

if i could paint every day, and i cannot yet, i would hope that this would lead me to paint in a different direction every day.

so, thanks for leading me to Juan. his works are masterful, and the train line piece is one i visited recently and will revisit - but next time with Juan's inspiration.

thanks Nick. and thanks Juan. great work all around you chaps...

William K. Moore said...

Nicholas good of you to share your light with other artists - in this case a spotlight. JC delivers a lethal blow to watercolor unbelievers; just what is possible in this medium is an open road and he is well down the trail picking up mileage.. or kilometerage as the case may be. Skillful and energetic are two words that pop into my mind when viewing this work - quite a pleasure to see.

Nick said...

Nancy - so true, a bit more intense than that Forrest Gump box of chocolates thing!

Joel - what a great post! Like a morning meditation, you've inspired me today tovarish.

Bill - I know Juan's a great admirer of your work also, which slides down the razor blade of life..I know you have new stuff up, will be over asap..doing a workshop this week, trying to keep the principles of my heroes in mind! Debriefing soon

Mike said...

Thanks, again, Nick, for bringing much needed education for all of us! I was so moved, in bringing my hands to my face, I snagged my hang nails in my yellow golf sweater and ruined it!

Seriously, I really mean the thanks for educating us. Sometimes I think I am caught in a time warp and cannot get out.

Mike said...

AND . . .welcome home, Dude!

Fernando Pena said...

Great post Nick, Juankar and his work deserve it. It's really an adventure to go every day to his blogs, and be surprised by his creativity and freedom.

Javier Ona said...

I discovered Juan Carlos Cardesin when both of us were selected for Zhujiajiao Biennial. His works ... Nick said better than me, so, let me talk about him as a person.

From the first time we met via internet I realized what a great people he is. He helped me a lot and always with a very friendly and warm behavior.

I am proud about his friendship and looking forward to meet him in person one of these days. Congrats Juankar for being sa you are.

Javier Ona

Nick said...

Mike - talk about "educating us"! Your blog is the go to page for stimulating thought about why we paint, and how. I'm talking about it in the workshops and including the link in follow-up emails.
I'm still thinking about the roadshow, wondering about corporate sponsorship from Izod or Nike. Not to mention television rights!

Fernando - I even get a big nervous when I click on the link!

Javiercito - it's my big hope to meet Juan next time in Spain, and I hope to reconnect with you also. I already know you as a great person, and I'm sure Juan is another rare bird, this is evident from his art. Abrazos!

Helen Ström said...

Hello Nick! I know your work from french magazines, as it's the kind you can't go by without paying attention and stop to look with admiration. Tonight my friend Juan Carlos mentioned your blog, so I'm glad to discover that you're the same person that do those watercolors I keep in my mind. (I'm very bad with names so I hope you don't mind I didn't remember your name, but your paintings) : )
I completely agree about the work of Juan Carlos. I saw a few sketches in his sketchbook last week when he was visiting Paris and his crayon work is just amazing, so strong, luminous and subtle all together and this is without talking about his incredible creativity. But above all he's a fantastic friend with the biggest heart!!!
So thanks to Juan Carlos, again, for leading me here! he he
Well Nick, I send you a "Bonjour" from Paris and good luck with your upcoming projects!

Nick said...

Helen - thank you for your kind words, and obviously I agree with your feelings about Juan - he is truly unique, and one of my favorite contemporary artists. It is easy to see how driven he is, how obsessed (possessed?) he is as a creative soul, adding prodigiously to the wealth of beauty in our world. I see him at the same time a very fragile being and a very strong one, and all of this bursts through his work. The moment I saw it I knew this guy was a force to be reckoned with, and I feel quite fortunate to be a friend. You actually KNOW him! I have a feeling simply from your post that you are a great artist too, and I will visit your page asap. Gracias amiga!