Interviews with Juana Francés

Juana Francés at the Ateneo [1]


Luis Blánquez Benito (LBB): In our Studios we have the painter Juana Francés, who is currently holding an exhibition of her work at the Ateneo’s Sala del Prado. To mark the occasion, and considering it to be of interest to our listeners, we ask her. Could you explain to us the new pictorial stance represented by your current exhibition?

Juana Francés (JF): This is undoubtedly my first exhibition within the abstract line; how do I account for it, you ask me? Faced with the intimate necessity of expressing my world I’ve renounced the figurative; I try to capture everything; that, I believe, is being faithful to the era we live in.

LBB: We perfectly understand your position; nevertheless, would you be prepared to justify it a bit more?

JF: Actually, what I’m trying to do is to free myself from the oppression of things; and in actual fact I think I’ve managed to do this in my current exhibition.

LBB: What oppression are you referring to?

JF: Bear in mind that all painters try to express themselves through visual values and I seek after these values within myself and not in the things that surround me: they are, then, values that I invent and that I give vent to in the artwork.

LBB: What can you tell us about the pictures in your exhibition?

JF: There are twenty pictures made of sand and grit and other plastic materials.

LBB: What pictorial value do you appreciate in sand?

JF: To me sand has extraordinary expressive value; I always use it in my pictures.

LBB: How would you define the pictures in your exhibition as a whole?

JF: I express in them my spiritual states, my anxieties, my concerns. And, up to a point, they constitute my self-portrait.

LBB: And why don’t you describe your self-portrait to us?

JF: Bear in mind that I allude to my psychic, not my physical, self-portrait. And moreover my means of expression—visual language—is incompatible with any verbal explanation; I define myself in the work.

LBB: Many thanks for your declarations.

You have been listening to an interview with the painter Juana Francés, on the occasion of her current exhibition at the Ateneo’s Sala del Prado in Madrid.



The Painting of Juana Francés [2]


Luis Blánquez Benito (LBB): Can you reveal to us why you abandoned your expressionist picture-making and turned to abstraction?

Juana Francés (JF): I had occasion to take a trip around most of the European countries; on my return, it was impossible to go back to my former painting; I needed greater freedom to pursue my artistic interests and maybe this was the reason for what you call a change of artistic position.

LBB: And what are you painting now?

JF: Upon abandoning my earlier oil painting, I embarked on a period of research with new materials and new possibilities of expression.

LBB: What new possibilities have you found?

JF: I convey the conception of my pictures directly to the canvas; what I’d like to say is that in my current pictures there is greater intimate sincerity since I don’t have to subject myself to the interpretation of the nature that surrounds us; only an expression of the spontaneous, direct, inner world.

LBB: What materials do you use in your current work?

JF: Sand and other plastic matter; very sober colours: black, white, dark brown. On many occasions, I even respect the colour of the sand.

LBB: Have you created anything that fully expresses your new pictorial-abstract posture?

JF: Yes; my recent exhibition at the Sala del Prado of the Ateneo in Madrid, some twenty pictures of varying size, some two metres high.

LBB: What did the critics say about this exhibition?

JF: Of my works it’s been said that in my pictures there’s no sand, or lacquer or enamel; only an artistic world with a poetic quality; those have been the words of Cirilo Popovich; and as for Castro Arines, he said in short that my painting was clear in the exposition of the things put into it, although it was complicated in its grammar.

LBB: Do you believe—as has been said—that you are one of the safest bets in young Spanish painting?

JF: I think you’re exaggerating; although Castro Arines did say it; but I confine myself to working relentlessly and of course with great enthusiasm.

LBB: Many thanks for your declarations.

You have been listening to a news item with the painter Juana Francés, on the occasion of her recent exhibition at the Ateneo’s Sala del Prado in Madrid.


[1] BLÁNQUEZ BENITO, Luis; FRANCÉS, Juana, Juana Francés en el Ateneo (radio interview). (10/06/1959) [excerpts]
[2] BLÁNQUEZ BENITO, Luis; FRANCÉS, Juana. La pintura de Juana Francés (radio interview). (17/06/1959) [excerpts].

These excerpts were published in Juana Frances: Informalism Was Also Female, (exhib. cat.), Barcelona, 2020, pp. 30-31