For most of the past decade Guerrero Medina has been intensely involved in an epic body of work relating to the exile of the vanquished Repubican forces, intellectuals and free-thinkers who were the victims of the repressive regime that came with Franco’s victory at the close of the Civil War. The huddled masses that worked their way to a Phyrric freedom (most were promptly incarcerated in French concentration camps) walked, with their meagre possessions on their backs, through the trails and byways of the Empordà on their way to the border.
Although Guerrero Medina had not yet been born, the stream of ragged exiles that in 1939 walked past the Empordanese village where he lives remained in his consciousness like a searing ember, a part of the collective memory of displaced people the world over. The completion of this enormous series, comprising of hundreds of paintings and works on paper, each of which was done from memory*, claimed a physical and emotional toll on the artist, impelling him to do a volte face and embrace a completely new theme that would allow him to exorcise the years-long accumulation of haunting images.
Following his penchant for working from memory, Guerrero Medina has embraced a new subject, the circus performer, which is the theme of his exhibition. This series of paintings, developed over the past year from sketches and the vivid recollections of a village carnival fair (complete with freaks, contortionists and high-wire acts) are presented as bold and sober compositions with a reduced chromatic range which portray circus artists in a powerful, totemic light. Although the theme has been explored by countless artists since the early 1900s, Guerrero Medina revitalises the genre, using it as a vehicle for his bravura painterly style. Guerrero Medina is a painter’s painter with a visual vocabulary uniquely his own and instantly recognisable as one of the finest artists working in the Empordà. With a long list of exhibitions dating back to 1963, Guerrero Medina has exhibited widely in Spain, Europe and the United States.
* The term from memory alludes to the process of incorporating into the unconscious that broad spectrum of experiences, lived, learned or intuited, that through osmosis and absorption form part of the collective memory. As it pertains to the Exile Series, the artist explains his “desire…in the entire process to use as a point of departure all the documentation and real images as first witnesses to the fact. During those years I have gathered documentary evidence through reading and the visualisation of images that have helped me return to the past, to feel and be able to convey in the present, the emotion of that first look.”