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Joan Bennàssar, Primitivism

Pollença, Art and Desire

LLAD is an acronym formed by the LL of Mallorca, the A of Architecture, and the D of Design. To write this article, we are going to take the liberty to transform it and convert the LL into the LL of Pollença, the A into theA of Art and the D into the D of Desire. This way, it will be easier to talk about Joan Bennàssar. Or rather, talk about his work, which is almost the same thing.

He was born in the middle of the last century, which makes him a seminal artist for what was, what is, and what will be the art of our time. He isn’t defined by the years on his calendar, but by the vitality of his work, which remains youthful, robust, and vibrant. His native Pollença, a land of art and artists, transcends his creation and always accompanies him. His beginnings were not easy, marked by scarcity and rationing, but also by a talent that made him stand out and excel above the prevailing mediocrity. The social burden displayed in his early works transformed as his painting evolved. An artist influenced by abstract art, impressionism, Bacon, realism, or collages made with all kinds of materials – many of them torn from the streets – passing through the inevitable influence of Picasso and his cubism, to what Bennàssar himself defines as primitivism when referring to his work.

Symbolism, beauty and sensuality

Works of art that don’t just decorate but define, accompany, and complete. When you arrive at a house for the first time, there are things that determine what type of home it is. The books lining the shelves, the light in the rooms, the paintings, and sculptures filling the spaces. Bennàssar’s creations become part of the family; they’re not just passing through, they enter your world to stay. His large-format paintings fill even the widest walls on their own, creating a compelling space filled with symbolism. Joan says he doesn’t know if his works are the answer to any question. Some of us think they are the questions that answer themselves through the contemplation of the primitive, deformed, and sensual beauty they emanate. Bennàssar’s paintings and sculptures share space in the finest homes, whether modern, renovated, or newly built, bringing them to life and helping them become more welcoming and livable. It’s the essential complement to infuse personality into the most impenetrable office or the most exposed room.

Sensuality is one of the hallmarks of Joan Bennàssar’s creations, acting as an intermediary between desire and reality. No one should expect one of his paintings to merely decorate a bedroom wall; it won’t. The painting will transform, come to life, and fill the room with desire, love, and eroticism. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small oil painting or a large lithograph, the artwork will accompany you with every awakening, with every nightfall. His sculptures are the ideal counterpoint to the pursuit of useless perfection, an absurd goal for many people. Bennàssar began his studies at the School of Arts and Trades in Palma, where Jaume Mir imparted his knowledge and preached his devotion to sculpture. The native of Pollença knew how to listen and immerse himself in the wisdom of the master to create his own universe, his own identity. His sculptures are recognisable, they are identity-forming. By giving them a space in your home, you run the risk of them becoming one more of the family, of naming them, and greeting them upon arrival or saying goodbye when leaving. And not because Bennàssar seeks the realism of Antonio López, but because his sculptures have their own light, an identity that goes beyond their impure forms or rounded bodies. This is one of the reasons why there are sculptures by Joan Bennàssar in public spaces such as the stairways of Calvari in Pollença or on the shores of Son Serra de Marina or Can Picafort.

Essence and identity

His voluptuous women, with round shapes, are salacious and appealing despite the excess they represent. They don’t hesitate to turn their backs to the sea or glance sideways at it while knowing they are being watched, studied, admired. But Bennàssar also creates male figures, imperfect and disproportionate as such, but tender and powerful, like the one welcoming Mallorca FC fans at the entrance of Son Moix stadium. Their strength lies not in the perfection of their forms but in the essence they convey. They are not inert bodies; they are figures in a permanent search for their identity.

Joan Bennàssar is a young artist in full maturity. And I emphasise “young”. He continues to experiment, search, and create. His immediate horizon includes unique exhibitions in special venues and with unique formats, but his work goes further, and soon we will be able to watch documentary about his career that has already been awarded and recognised at prestigious international festivals.

Joan Bennàssar, a simple acronym: LLAD (Pollença, Art, Desire)