JUAN FRANCISCO CASAS
|June 23, 2011 | ART||Posted by James Watkins|
Scenario: Your friend has asked you to come over to his computer to check out some art that he’s found whilst trawling the internet looking for imagery. At first glance you think “oh sweet..some grainy 35mm film photos of naked hot girls”. Then your mate tells you that they’re not photos and that they’re all done with a standard ball-point pen by an artist called Juan Francisco Casas. Your eyebrows rise whilst your face involuntarily screws up as you definitively proclaim that that’s “bullshit man there’s no way you could get that detail with a ball point pen” – they reply “nah man for real they’re all large scale works with a ball point pen”.
You’re busy at work and bit confused as to why your friend is wasting your time continuing with this ludicrous line of humour, nearing the point of exasperation you retort “what the fuck are you tripping on man, that shit’s photo realistic – it’s an actual physical impossibility to render hair like that with a ballpoint pen”. Your mate (whose patience is now also waning) sighs – becoming frustrated with your pessimism he goes on the offensive and applies the knockout blow to the debate by taking you to Juan Francisco Casas’ website where you spend the next 20 minutes spellbound, devouring the hyper-real imagery of this potential ball-point demi-god.
It’s only after viewing his website and realising that he’s not just some guy with the-gift-of-the-gab going around taking photos of scantily clad/unclad beautiful woman he’s managed to talk into bed – but one of Spain’s most accomplished artists whose curriculum vitae (even when heavily truncated) is about as impressive as it gets in the art world, that you reluctantly accept that someone can actually be this talented.
- 1999: First in his class whilst acquiring a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Granada as well as winning the National Award for Master Thesis of the Ministry of Education and Science University for the best record in Spain
- 2000: Received the scholarship of Teacher Education and Research. From that year until 2004 served as teaching drawing and printmaking in the Department of Drawing at the University of Granada while doing his doctorate at the same institution.
- 2002: Selected for INJUVE Art Show at the Circulo de Bellas Artes de Madrid and later toured the capitals of Latin America
- 2005: The only Spanish representative in the 2nd Biennial of Prague, organized by the major international journal of contemporary art: Flash Art Magazine, and was among other with relevant international artists from Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan and Neo Rauch.
- 2008: Exhibited at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando (Madrid) and Royal Academy of Spain in Rome
- 2009: Showed at the Instituto Cervantes in New York in the exhibition 10 Years of Art in ABC Awards that toured different venues of the institution in Moscow, Tokyo and Paris.
In parallel to his efforts as a visual artist, Juan Francisco Casas is also an eloquent writer and a published poet. His blog contains essays of his, written in both Spanish and English – the reading of which provides an insight to the artist and adds another dimension to his work and the reasons behind it.
“My work is not nearly as skeptical as you might understand, since, as I decided that painting itself might be an exercise in honesty, as I think should be any artistic work in these times of shams. My work talks about what I know and my surroundings, my life, what I like and what I do, friends, lovers, everyday moments of absurd, strangely common moments, domestic hedonism with a touch of surreal delirium”.
Artists like Juan Francisco Casas are a rarity. You can divide the reactions of other artists seeing his work into two distinct categories:
1) Those that see his work and think “holy shit, that is incredible. I feel totally inspired and motivated and now all I want to do now is quit my job, go home and practise drawing for the rest of my life until I have completely mastered my chosen medium”.
2) Those that see his work and think “holy shit, that is incredible. There’s no way in hell I’ll ever be even close to that good, even if I drew all day every day for the rest of my life. I’m going home to burn all my art supplies in a fit of rage then either shoot myself in the head or get a soulless job at IKEA, where I can waste away my remaining dark days as a bitter ex-artist, lamenting the moment I laid my eyes on Juan Franciscos Casas’ work. I now have to accept the daily living hell of having to deal with these sickening loved up couples buying their first cheap queen sized bed, thinking it’s hilarious to subtly allude to the fact that they’ll be consistently consummating their relationship on said bed, whilst I get none because I’ve totally lost my mojo thanks to Juan Francisco Casas and his carnally charged and ironically bed orientated ballpoint pen masterpieces”.
Proceed with caution.