Currently on view (Gallery 307)

Sign I

2003Oil on canvas
188.3 x 174.5 X 4 cm

Over the course of his nearly seven-decade-long career, Pablo Palazuelo developed a highly personal form of geometric abstraction that was informed by esoteric teachings, the Kabbalah, and Eastern philosophy, as well as mathematics and science. Like the sculptor Eduardo Chillida, whom he befriended upon moving to Paris in 1948, Palazuelo initially studied architecture before he decided to become a full-time painter in 1939. (He later ventured into three dimensions as well, producing sculpture beginning in 1954.) In the 1940s he was influenced by the abstraction of Paul Klee, and by the early 1950s—inspired by his reading of Theosophy and hermetic texts that dealt with the connections between numbers and the sacred or the psychic, and the correspondence between sounds and colors—Palazuelo committed himself to a language of geometric forms. For Palazuelo, geometry lay at the origin of life and constituted the most inventive process, permitting a vision of hidden structures, potential new forms, and the metamorphosis of one form into another.

Sign I (Signo I, 2003) belongs to a family of works that reflect Palazuelo's belief (stemming from the influence of Klee) in the power of the line—the line's capacity to make the invisible visible and to serve as a vehicle for energy. In Sign I, he created a sense of dynamism by deploying a diagonal line (in contrast to the static quality of vertical or horizontal lines). For Palazuelo, empty space, which forms much of the composition here, was equally a generative presence and a plenitude of energy; he once said that space is the territory the artist enters as a traveler in search of adventure. [1] This powerfully simple, energy-charged work is a "sign" of Palazuelo's introspective vision coming into form.

1. Pablo Palazuelo, "Endrit" in Escritos y conversaciones, CajaMurcia, Murcia, 1998, p.212

Kevin Power. "Pablo Palazuelo." In Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection. Bilbao:
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Madrid: TF Editores, 2009

Original title

Sign I




Oil on canvas


188.3 x 174.5 X 4 cm

Credit line

Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa