Heras, Artur

Artur Heras (Xativa, 1945) began his journey in the art world at a time when a career in art, particularly in Spain, was a goat trail not even suitable for goats. Far from being frightened, he selected as mentors some avant-garde figures he sympathised with, and this way he learned from dadaism, constructivism, abstract expressionism, pop, and new figuration the elements that allowed him to make paintings which possessed, besides a ludic toil, an important critique and social protest.

Some characteristics of his work are the experimentation with representation codes and supports, literary and language games, and an ironic reading of art history. Although the human being occupies the centre point in all of his inventions, as is the case with his dear Leonarda’s teacher, he also enjoys chasing after some everyday objects, which have regained their original mystery after being so familiar and frequented.

Artur Heras is a full-time illustrator, although he rarely exhibits or publishes his work. The lines, dots, and stains that fill up the pages of his many notebooks have earned a ticket to become something else, and are often the first manifestations of his paintings, sculptures, or designs for book covers and posters. His sketchbooks should be read like a diary in which he gathers his aphoristic work, integrated with comments on nature and on the surrounding reality, and in which reflections on life and art are plentiful. These notebooks are but the illustrated version of what other authors have called ‘book of disquiet’, ‘small portable cosmogony’, or ‘tremendous trifles’.

In parallel to his activity as an artist, and with the same rigour and independence, Heras directed the Sala Parpalló between 1980 and 1995, a space dedicated to promote new artists and distinguished creators on the international scene, which became an enlightening reference point in the city of Valencia. Photographers such as Walker Evans passed through it, as well as visual poets like Ben Vautier and illustrators like Miguel Calatayud.

Artur Heras regularly exhibits his paintings and sculptures and personally takes care of the publication of his catalogues, which are also beautiful objects. Among his books we can find Bandera bandera (Flag Flag; 1979), Ronda dels veïns de l’Ermita (Round of the neighbours of the Hermitage; 1985) based on a text by Alfons Roig, Quadern de dibuix (Sketchbook; 1993) and 100 cartells d’AH (100 posters of AH; 1995). He currently resides in Godella, a village that embraced the painter Pinazo, another distinguished scribbler of notebooks.

Portrait of the author at the Berlin Wall, by Josep Monter