AVANT #11 Juan Hidalgo. Part I
Curated by Roc Jiménez de Cisneros
The first instalment of the monographic dedicated to Juan Hidalgo features interviews with Esther Ferrer, Rubén Figaredo and Henar Rivière.
The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy defines "Ockam’s Razor" as a philosophical principle according to which simple theories are preferable to more complex ones—also known as the principle of economy or the principle of parsimony. This concept, attributed to the Franciscan Friar William of Ockham, is a perfect fit for much of the work and activities of Juan Hidalgo (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1927).
In the course of a complex career that resists easy classification, this multidisciplinary artist has skilfully used this imaginary razor to gradually refine a visual, poetic, sound and, above all, conceptual discourse that combines elements like everyday life, the apparently superfluous, irony, sexuality, and many more His work involves a constant exaltation of the senses, which goes back to the play of lights, colours, tastes and smells of his childhood, and which, with some distance, can be mapped onto almost all of his output. Hidalgo’s work offers a new, distinctive take on the legacy of Duchamp (whom he calls "my grandfather"), intertwined with the influence of Zen Buddhism and Eastern philosophy.
Zaj, the collective he founded with Walter Marchetti in 1964 (and which also involved the collaboration of artists like Ramón Barce, Esther Ferrer, José Luis Castillejo and Tomás Marco), which blurred the lines between poetry, music, action, theatre and the visual arts and merged them into what Zaj called "etceteras", still represents one of the major turning points in the arts scene in Spain during the second half of the 20th Century.
In his work with Zaj and outside of it, Hidalgo has undeniably influenced not one but several generations of Spanish sound artists, who not only acknowledge his historic precedent (he was the first Spanish artist to present works at Darmstadt and the first to compose an electroacoustic piece), but also see his promiscuity of languages and his radical approach to the artistic act as a change of paradigm, synonymous with a renewal that was absolutely essential in periods of cultural and political obscurantism.
A transgressor by nature, an almost involuntary provocateur, Hidalgo often says that Spanish musicians consider him a visual artist and visual artists consider him a musician. And that only the poets consider him a poet. The trick is obviously to see Juan Hidalgo as all of these at once. His work is like a Mandela, a symbol that represents totality and integrity, and can be understood as a model for the structure of life.