Currently not on view

Around Guernica

2009/2020UVI printing on linen, varnished
350 x 781 cm

José Manuel Ballester received a fine arts degree from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in 1984. His early paintings focused on the techniques of the Italian and Flemish Schools of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In 1990 he began to combine painting and photography, and much of his work since that time has featured architectural spaces, both interior and exterior. In 2010 he received the Premio Nacional de Fotografía in acknowledgment of “his unique interpretation of architectural space and light, and his outstanding contribution to the renewal of photographic techniques.”

For Ballester, the rapid technological development of photography has enabled both viewer and artist to take a closer look at the world of art. Through photography, Ballester strives to encapsulate time, to make it stand still, giving respite from the passage of life by immersing the viewer in architectural nonplaces. Ballester is interested in empty spaces, in portraying people through their traces and reflections. His work investigates the loneliness of the individual and the contradictions of the modern world through architecture, transforming spaces into artificial scenes. Light plays a prominent role, with the hidden and the visible, and the public and the private, serving as aspects that reveal the human condition. The large-format images leave a path wide open to interpretation; to Ballester, the work invites the spectator to participate in the metamorphosis of reality.

About Guernica is a photographic reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica printed full-size on linen and digitally altered to remove the figures from the spaces where the action takes place. Thus, the architectural interior, with its play of lights and shadows, stands as a silent witness of the 1937 bombing of the town of Gernika. Ballester moves the time sequence forward to a time when all actors have gone but “the signs of the inhuman and the flames are still present and active, as in the flower that blossoms out of the sword.”

Original title

Around Guernica




UVI printing on linen, varnished

More info

Edition: 1 AP, 1 original


350 x 781 cm

Credit line

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao