“Another series entitled and inspired by the nocturnal, and in which Juan Cruz-Plaza also achieves the heights of lyricism, is the series of works on paper 30 visiones de la noche al revés (30 visions of the night, back to front). In it and using the medium of gouache, and resorting only to the most ascetic black and grey, in addition to the white of the support, the artist creates images in which the geometry becomes pure crystal. Among these images, which succeed each other and form a chain, there are several significantly dedicated to Leopardi, a mysterious Caso de gracia repentina, an Isla negra, an Ostinato rigore, and once again some Archipiélagos constructed on exactly the same principle as the canvases of the same title.
Perhaps the most significant of the titles is Multicielo Klee: it is an expanded composition, in the form of a constellation, with a structure similar to the aforementioned Multicielo Rilke and Multicielo Pleamar, or the Multicielo Claudio de Lorena. Juan Cruz-Plaza, in these works on paper, and in general in his work using this medium, very consciously follows in the footsteps of Klee. He is, indeed, one of the most consciously Kleeian artists I have ever known. Like the master of Bauhaus, or like his countryman Meret Oppenheim, on paper we observe that he is particularly content, and able, as well, to construct a little world of his own. In this regard, it goes without saying that in this instance the works on paper are not “minor” works, but part, and a very major part –for me here are some of his finest moments as a lyrical poet– of the laboratory of someone for whom “the execution is not (…) as important as the invention”: some nocturnals, some exercises, as a result of which many themes emerge that will later be echoed in larger-scale works”.
Juan Manuel Bonet. Extract from the presentation of the catalogue of the exhibition “Juan Cruz-Plaza: Paintings and Drawings”, organised by the Junta de Castilla y León.
“The question of “limit” in painting, the concept of “doubt” and the notion of “theme and variation”, are some of the fundaments of the work of Juan Cruz-Plaza. A painting which has attained a paradigmatic expression which features compositional values and structures with very neat lines and at the same time a great freedom in the occupation of the pictorial space and the surface, interpreted not merely as the inherent support that it is, but also as a strict territory which the painting multiplies in the rhythmic appearance of references and indications the painter uses to guide the gaze of the spectator through the meanders of each painting. (…) The poetry of this painting is essentially and almost exclusively pictorial. It concedes little or nothing to the theme, which is, above all, artistic. The creativity of the painter has led him to develop a universe of highly varied hues, sharp presences, structures and densities which are conceptual, however implicit they may seem in each work. (…) A very characteristic way of dividing each work abounds in the works of Juan Cruz-Plaza. Resorting to fragmentation, interrupting forms or rhythms which later appear elsewhere, completing extensive areas which, although empty, possess great expressive power. Resources of a “painting within a painting” nature are commonplace. These works possess what could be called a very specific power of ambient provocation”.
José María Iglesias. Extract from the article “Juan Cruz-Plaza” in the art journal Formas Plásticas.
“Some years ago, Juan Cruz-Plaza was working on the construction of a series –our painter produces his work in the form of series as does Campano, with which it coincides in many aspects: Cézanne, Poussin, cubist interpretation… which he called Templos. These pieces are reminiscent of Japanese Fukimuli-Yatai; and, why not, other temples and not only architectural ones, for example, the temple created in the ear through the hymns of Orpheus to merge the glorious worlds of poetry and painting. The ear is the memory’s organ for poetry, in the same way that the eye is for painting. A tempo rises in it, refuge of darkest desire where all of a sudden and every time, that flame of painting is reborn. Once again, the past in a prothetic vision which is reducible to tradition, or rather, not to history. Instead, to a luminous place never visited twice which the eye jealousy stores in the memory. Establishing the boundaries of its topography with the limits of his discipline is the task of the painter”.
Enrique Andrés Ruiz. Extract from the article “New question of limits” in the art journal Cyan.
“His compositions form an orderly space where everything occurs within the painting. Space limited to a fragment, which photography has accustomed us to, returns to the classical order as an organised space which is plausible and complete in itself. The spectator’s gaze wanders, redirects itself and inevitable finds itself within the space of the painting. The equivocal order of the composition guides the path of the eye, it makes it run, retrace, leap through various routes. The viewing stops, questions, doubts, supposes: what is in front and what is behind? What is inside or outside? Where is the void or the fullness? What is the figure and what is the background? What form does the key to interpreting it take? What is the theme concealing or revealing? Displaced black rectangles over a white background, concealed by a blue plane on the surface? Or white over black in a blue background? Lines which pass underneath forms that conceal them or contours which separate forms? Rectangles of light over darkness or discontinuous lines forming symbols? Different sizes or different depths? Painting describes a poetry of space, of the relations between the spaces and the signs. It establishes a logic of the visual order, creating a confrontation between the artistic elements and the viewing”.
The painter plays with sensitive phenomena which gives rise to the influence of forms and colours, some over the other and over the system which configures a composition. Each variation can bring about a change in the conscience”.
Assumpta Rosés. Extract from the catalogue “Juan Cruz-Plaza: Paintings and Drawings” for the exhibitions at Tinglado del Puerto de Tarragona and Monasterio de Prado de Valladolid.
“This conceives the painting, the artistic space, as a place in which things happen. In such a way that we can see as a synthesis of his landscapes, that he has structured them following a classical order and approach, based on one of the more symbolic geometric figures, the square. It is a figure that represents the world, which in itself constitutes a micro-cosmos, in which the basic elements of our existence converge, such as the four seasons, the cardinal points, as well as verticality and horizontality, which we can also interpret as the masculine and feminine principle, respectively.
Within this body, within this multiple work, we can find smaller, more individual places and stories. It is as if we were looking at a giant map and trying to see the different elements that make it up, its limits, its borders, its accidents. They are active maps which reveal potential interactions and journeys. In them, the figure and the background are of similar importance. This similitude means that the perception of the form varies, depending on whether the spectator considers that a specific colour surface is the background or the figure of the painting. The multiplicity of ways of observing the composition gives the work dynamism.
We can also observe dynamism in the scaled contours that form squares by superimposing themselves, and in the radial symmetries that hint at possible rotary movements. On the other hand, the surfaces created by the various colours form a compact gear assembly in which the compressed space of each colour struggles to expand, in a balanced combat, in which the forces of compression-expansion are very equal. The order of the geometrisation prevents the expansion of the forms, but does not eliminate the internal growth that wants to free itself of the immobilism and the established geometry.
Consequently, we can observe how the compositions are not closed forms in the pictorial space, but seen as forms that have a latent power that could make them grow and expand beyond the basic plane, while the blue, white and brown surfaces sometimes seem to be forms that penetrate the composition to compress and increase the density of the pictorial space. All these forms with their contained strength are controlled by the order that gives them the desire to combine with essential, vertical and horizontals elements and with the cool colours. This struggle between order and expansion distances itself from an exalted confrontation and presents itself as an inevitable force which, expressing itself in an abstract manner alludes to any concretion, in other words is refers to life itself.”
Antonio Salcedo Miliani. Extract from the catalogue of the Juan Cruz-Plaza exhibition “Places and Limits” at Capella de Sant Roc in Valls.
“Recent work such as the series Campoespacio, Suite italianos or Eremitas confirm that Juan Cruz-Plaza has achieved a place of his own in which the demonstrates a wonderful mastery of symmetries and, of course, the art of composition. With an execution, as Bonet remarked, which is neat, “although never aseptic”, generating forms that have a latent force: the abstract, yet at the same time, concrete dimension of life. From the fantasies and games of emptiness to that “subject of doubts” which was, for Valery, a crucial metaphor of art, from the detention of time to the fluidity of the forms, from the series Eupalinos to Visiones fugitivas, the works of Juan Cruz-Plaza are certainly memorable. Enigmas in green or in magenta, zones of colour that articulate spaces, theme and variation. The geometric baroque style of this artist may be perfectly summarised in the title of some paintings produced in 2007: Augenmusik. “The human soul has lost its music – music understood as the scoring in the soul of the inaccessibility of the origin”. Perhaps the promise of art is to return to us the life of vision, that secret harmony that rhymes with the beating of our heart”.
Fernando Castro Flórez: “The subtle and musical geometry of Juan Cruz-Plaza”. Extract from the catalogue “Juan Cruz Plaza. En torno al horizonte” organised by Museum of Modern Art of Tarragona.