Art and Culture  Exhibition 

Fernando Higueras at ICO

The Art of Exuberance

Iñaki Bergera 

A portrait of Fernando Higueras (Madrid, 1930-2008) presides the entrance to the exhibition that the ICO Foundation in Madrid and Spain’s Ministry of Public Works devote to this major figure of 20th-century Spanish architecture. The portrait is by the architect Lola Botia, curator of the retrospective, Fernando’s collaborator and partner for thirty-four years, head of the foundation whose mission it is to looks after and disseminate his legacy. In a typical gesture of his, Higueras covers half his face with his right hand. His strabismus forced him to rest his eyes every now and then. Maybe his hand needed to take a break too. With his hands he played the guitar masterfully, drew and painted with extraordinary skill, and pressed the shutter release button of his camera. Above all his hand traced the expression of an immeasurable architectural capacity and talent. But the portrait could also have a more prosaic meaning. Higueras seems to be welcoming us into the exhibition with a certain reticence, worried as he is, perhaps, about showing the content of an obsessive career to a possibly not altogether unbiased audience. It wasn’t exactly that he was timid; maybe his deliberate and contradictory ostracism – which had him ending life as a recluse in a house excavated around a daylight court, the scene of his dissipations and eccentricities – were a visceral artistic stance: the stance of those who feel themselves unaligned with the politically correct, as we would put it today; the stance of the unclassifiable and anarchic, free of the corset of fashions and labels...

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