ABOUT ANTONIO FUENTES · TEXTS · JOSÉ HERNÁNDEZ

AT FIRST IT WAS CHAOS. FOR MY FRIEND AND TEACHER ANTONIO FUENTES.

José Hernández, from the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Art.

If what we call artistic talent was actually quantifiable, Antonio Fuentes’ material, real or imaginary, would undoubtedly exceed any figure. Naturally, I did not discover this today by myself, but other people with more knowledge and ability in these matters have mentioned, written and ratified the above. In this respect I could add little or very little to what is already written.

However, even if my contribution is small, I would like to (or must) describe my personal impression of my first visit to the painter’s studio, studio or cell, where creative imagination takes place.

Antonio Fuentes. Tangier, 1975

I am a bitter enemy of praise, and I know that Antonio Fuentes was too. However, it would not be fair or honest not to mention what I considered his real quality: his strange ability to be able to see and make other people always see the aesthetic and artistic side, or even the positive side of everything around us. When I say everything I mean objects, atmosphere or situations.

That huge and enviable vitality leaves an indelible trace like a centrifugal force. It is a lesson learnt forever about generosity, creativity, humbleness and other terms that, sadly and incomprehensibly, are not nowadays normally used.

Apart from this necessary comment, I prefer to speak about a teenage memory as at times examples can be a better form of clarification. It was in Tangiers, also my place of birth, a bright and chilly afternoon in March. I was with two good friends: Emilio Sanz de Soto and Antonio or Ángel Vázquez. A small square with an impeccable façade of a small mosque was going to be the natural scenery for this narrative.

Passing through the threshold of the blue door was like suddenly entering a planetarium. My eyes opened wide like too big disproportionate white porcelain discs. I went up through a dark hole where some stairs transformed, like it was magic, sometimes into a spiral on the back of a scaly body, other times into the hours on the face of a wall clock and lastly into the simple sheets put together to make a hotel menu.

When I arrived to the top floor I saw how the artist, gasping for breath, was looking at something through the key hole. Immediately after a gestured silence he disappeared between the weeds. In a place full of fleets of sardine tins, in his NAUTICAL TRIP he headed towards a bathroom. In the bath there was a fabulous feather mattress which was damaged.

In the main room a big motorcycle driven by an also large encyclopaedia went diagonally through the huge rooms dodging different obstacles: very diverse objects (some of them really strange) such as a pair of turquoise socks joined together at one end to form the Omega sign, a canotier hat, a gramophone with an orchid shape speaker, dried colour stained paintbrushes and a little box that used to contain cough tablets but now contains dolls eyes. Further away a stuffed bird that looks real but was dead. I also saw a group of insects go through thick impenetrable walls. At the end of the house, in another room there were huge scrolls, musical scores, diploma certificates, butterfly wings as well as other things on the wall. I saw how Antonio Fuentes, with wheels on his feet was frantically drawing a picture of a cathedral, trying to keep the picture within a fifty centimetre rectangle. Above him, a row of mythological creatures were walking along the beams of the roof.

I don't know how long I stayed in that state of ecstasy for, but I felt my head turn to the left towards a small window where I could see the blue sky; the smell of mint penetrated through the narrow hole, breaking the glass and showing horizontality. By my side there was an envelope with an unclear postmark. The pentagonal shade put written accents in the poem.

This was my first encounter with an artist. This is the vision that is permanently kept in my mind. Nowadays, could this and other information be part of our way to death?

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