Permanent Collection

Juan Navarro Baldeweg

Santander, 1939

The painting’s title, Viento y lluvia II, leads the viewer to make out the figures of several trees bent by the wind amid vigorous brushstrokes. In keeping with this interpretation, the slanted lines would signify the presence of raindrops. Thus, the theme of the work is a landscape reminiscent of Romantic painting—it is a symbolic representation of the uncontrollable forces of nature, which flood the land and bend its trees while mankind helplessly watches on.

"Viento y lluvia II" [Wind and Rain II], 1983-1986
Viento y lluvia II [Wind and Rain II], 1983-1986

But Viento y lluvia II takes this subject matter even further. The rainy landscape is inspired by a genre of Japanese prints called ukiyo-e, in which a standard technique is used to depict rain—namely a diagonal sequence of parallel lines that partially cover the landscape. In this type of representation, the elements that make up the landscape are not arranged according to visual parameters, but to the poetic relationship between them. Navarro Baldeweg, who greatly admires ukiyo-e prints, often made use of Japanese ideas and composition methods, reinterpreting them from an expressionist perspective. In this sense, the textural richness of this painting brings to mind Wassily Kandinsky’s landscapes of Murnau, where masses of color—freed from the presence of form—gain autonomous meaning.

The colors that appear on the surface —shades of black and yellow, blue and green—do not rely on the figures they represent. Instead they follow a fierce rhythm marked by the rain’s oblique lines, which, cut loose from their symbolic meaning, turn into a geometrical structure. Together with the overlapping expressionist strokes, this structure gives the composition a dynamic appearance.

Javier Maderuelo

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Catálogo del Museu Fundación Juan March, Palma de Mallorca.