Juan Miguel Pozo
Tanks. 200 x 140 cm. Acrylic on canvas.
Feeling the spaces and what they mean or emanate from them is not possible for everyone, their similarities or differences go unnoticed most of the time. Neither why they are one way and not another, nor the cultural bases from which they have developed. That is why I suspect that for Juan Miguel Pozo to have lived between the eastern part of Cuba –suburban and different because it is more Caribbean–, then Havana city with its western metropolitan pretenses, and then moving through the ancient Europe, between “the pan” of Madrid with its varied rhythms and micro-contexts, along with other experiences in a dichotomous Spain –such as its former Caribbean colony–, even a Berlin like melting pot or Treffpunkt and within it the legendary artistic and intellectual oasis of Kreuzberg; I repeat, I suspect that all this framework has generated in his creative impetus a mosaic of unions and tensions, relationships and noises where history, ideologies and contemporary culture support important bases that constitute the present.
“Europe”. 80 x 110 cm. Acrylic on canvas
Seen from this sense of cultural background, Madrid is the margin of secular and religious cultural confrontations that are behind the scenery of the modern project and later. Consequence of this source Havana, above all, was a laboratory of socio-spatial experiments that reached peak points with the enthronement of an ideology built from a supposed left position incorrectly called Revolution and, in parallel, the gradual and endless impoverishment of physical and spiritual space of their society.
This traces a direct link with that formerly divided Berlin, traumatized by the polarization of ideologies and that in its “westernization” offered to the artistic culture a powerful reference due the impact of the German post-avantgarde, both from Düsseldorf, with its neo-expressionist lines such as the Neue Wilde or those previously influenced by Fluxus, the Conceptualists or the Pop, such as the later New School from Leipzig, promoted among others by Arno Rink and of which Neo Rauch is one of its visible heads.
Juan Miguel Pozo
In all these cultural fusions, where has persisted for decades the ghost of the struggle between the prevailing systems in modernity, has also survived the necessity to exorcise the cultural corpus through the expressions of art. And Pozo is a hungry being aware of that, an appetite that increased and became more refined after his experience with Konrad Klapheck at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.
He achieves in his "cultural DNA" to have witnessed the boom of the Cuban art during the eighties. A kind of expression that, even within a society with a socialist tendency, did not cease to be critical of the social, political, aesthetic and idiosyncratic levels of the context, but a criticism based on the utopian consolidation –perhaps naive– of the social project, is not its removal for inoperative. Pozo grew up with that renewal and romantic desire, which has changed in him over the years until the present. But above all, he is the cultural and experiential heir of a need to use art as a means of expression, and not a mere decorative aesthetic exercise.
Shipwreck” 200 x 140 cm. Acrylic on canvas
Through these impulses he is permeated by an imaginary that comes from ideological propaganda and its symbolic manipulation, from spatial aesthetics of a socialist nature, from a graphic expression based on the derivations of Bauhaus and the Russian avant-garde, as well as an aesthetic that is now embraced within the "Vintage" that transcends political positions and drives us to times, to epocal images, to a personal way of expressing the “Zeitgeist” as a consequence of intermingling, cultural and aesthetic profusion.
In the works of Pozo there is a longing for an epoch: the eighties of the last century. A time and what converges in it where the "empire of plastic" and kitsch began to be more evident as something normal in life from an indistinction between “high” and “low” of culture, which evolved in parallel with the culture of post-punk, New Wave, Synthpop, Krautrock and other derivations of rock and their ways of life –because we cannot leave aside from his visual work his direct relationship with Bӧhse Onkelz and other bands, musicians, DJs in bars or nightclubs–. All this combination of currents influences the sensitivity and mentality of the artist, both in his visual and sound expression.
“Horizon”. 200 x 140 cm. Acrylic on canvas
After all, we began to live a practical and consequent aesthetic of the false, of the copy, of the lost or hidden pattern, or of the authenticity seen from another position –but surely not from that so-called "originality" from a modern base–.
It is a time that immersed us in the clip, in the dynamic by seductive cuts, in the accelerated by attractive disruptions, in the act of manipulation as a superior skill. Because it announced the entrance to a state of life where we began to edit ourselves, even in the simplest way, to represent ourselves as we want to be and not as we are. That era brought us a more pop reality than that of its pioneers in the sixties, but less ridiculous than the later years with the “disco” aesthetic and a great lack of “swing”. And it was less divergent or dissenting only in appearances –because from its linguistic cynicism it prepared us to be more paranoid and to perceive something beyond processes, facts and things with a better use of the rhetorical language–.
The sense of "collage" of most of his works is really in the opposite direction: it is a "decollage" insofar as it infringes on images, planes and compositions that mixes a kind of iconic deconstruction. He is similar in that sense to Mimmo Rotella, because both absorb from the iconic urban repertoire, and that repertoire typical of cities is like a great sandwich of images, layers of icons, signs, symbols and messages that generate a great visual pulp. So the “decollage” is the effect –as in palimpsests– of revealing what is behind each image plane or layer.
All this remains in the roots of Pozo, and it is the basic breeding ground from which he absorbs without leaving aside other influences from art, graphics, ideology, philosophy and society.
CENTURY. 240 x 300 cm. Acrylic on canvas
After the eighties, with the momentary depolarization of the end of that decade and the announcement of a period with greater hopes and new romantic social challenges, no longer utopian but nihilistic; many processes, facts and things lost their former hierarchical position in culture.
Goodbye the borders after the “cold war”, welcome a new globalization when the maps changed color and another conservatism emerged with the old renewed wolves. And the historical, the cultural, the banal, the pedestrian, everything began to be affected more by a parity, a re-leveling of the important in favor of a whole on the same plane. Grandiosity and mediocrity, transcendence and irrelevance, history and oblivion, as well as many other dichotomous pairs from the West, ceased to be such and the perception of “anything goes” seemed to take over culture in general.
The Market. 180 x 100 cm. Acrylic on canvas
After the pleasantness of this pastiche of images, largely an iconic result of lived spaces, now in memory, in consequence with individual metabolizations, we can find the mockery of the unresolved, the irony of failure, the sarcasm of the decadent and a sweet evocation of the already non-existent. With these springs, Pozo's artworks shows us part of how we are in a present and a possible future. Even with self-referential data, his ontological spectrum is shareable and provides us with accomplices of times, melancholy, moods and escapes in front of perplexities, disappointments and the poetic capacity that he possesses as artist to lead us to those areas of losses, shipwrecks, ruins and nostalgia.
Mexico City , 2021