Permanent Collection

Joan Ponç

Barcelona, 1927 - Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Francia), 1984
Ponç was part of the group of artists and poets associated with the Dau al Set [Seven-Spotted Dice] periodical who proposed a type of art that moved away from official academicism during the post-war years. In order to isolate himself from the cruelty of life—which he perceived in the near-at-hand and the everyday—Ponç created a surrealist pictorial world of fantasy, inhabited by fantastical creatures that share disturbing landscapes with a flora and fauna that he minutely portrayed with both pen and brush.

"Personnage du chat" [Cat Character], 1952
Personnage du chat [Cat Character], 1952

Although Ponç’s works reveal both external references and the influence of other painters and poets, these are eclipsed by a powerful creative personality that brings out all the anxieties and phobias of the artist through a disturbing and enigmatic fantasy world. Personnage du chat is articulated as a group of fantastical elements in continual metamorphosis. In the figure, plant life is transformed into a humanoid with a body made of the veins and knots of a tree trunk—the ears are pointed palm fronds and the eyes and mouth, which emerge from a bandage, are made of clusters of flowers. The resulting figure holds what the work’s title describes as a cat, although it rather seems to be a lizard or a small devil. Whatever the case, the work evokes the magical world of medieval bestiaries.

Ponç was an outstanding draughtsman and frequently worked on paper. He deployed a detailed, precise technique to express an imaginary world inspired on occasions by small details—such as a defect in the paper—which suggested to him not just the shapes but also the subjects of his works.

Javier Maderuelo

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Catálogo del Museu Fundación Juan March, Palma de Mallorca.