Until news of his retrospective at the Museo de Arte in Juarez arrived, I confess I had never heard of Enrique Climent. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he was born in 1897 in Valencia, Spain and died in 1980 in Mexico. So his life and his art pretty much covered the 20th century, and that work reveals a skilled craftsman whose work although sometimes seems reminiscent of that of more widely known artists, nevertheless shows someone with great skill and a continuing desire to explore varous artistic possibilities.
In the earlier part of the 20th century, he was, among other things, an illustrator, a cartoonist, and an instructor of art in Spain. He spent time with Picasso and others in the European avant- garde, and then went into exile in Mexico when the Spanish Civil War erupted.
. As might be expected, Mexico was not an easy fit. He apparently was not enamored of the muralists and of course, missed Spain. We see in the early works of this time (early 1940’s) his exploration of the Mexican countryside. There are some really lovely landscapes, which more than anything else reveal his talent and skill.
Later on, in the 50’s and 60’s, we can see him becoming much more comfortable and returning to experimentation, reaching forward and in some cases drawing on the past, but nevertheless exploring his own artistic concerns, which seem to focus on form and volume and abstraction as well as revealing a sense of humor.
The show, co-curated by his daughter Pilar Climent and Brenda Luna Lobato focuses, on his years in Mexico (1940-1980) with the rooms divided by decades. There are also a series of pen and ink drawings in one cabinet and another containing a hand written letter in which he explains his method of creating his art and some other mementoes. It also reveals a multi-talented artist who has remained less well-known than he should be, and which this retrospective, which showed in Mexico City last year, goes a fair way to change..
Pilar Climent, has suggested that the works from the 50’s and 60’s are perhaps his best, showing him at his most mature. I would agree, and I also want to point out that these were created when he himself was in his 50’s and 60’s, and it might be instructive in this age which always wants the youngest talent (so it can strangle it in its bed with dollar bills?) to see the worthiness of allowing an artist time to develop his craft and vision. We seem to have no problem allowing wine to age, perhaps we should allow the same for creativity.-david sokolec