Perhaps the reason why Juan Hidalgo has gone so long ignored by critics and art historians is because his activity as an artist is so very diverse. Among his various talents, he is a musician, poet, actionist (rather than a performer) and a creator of forms and photographic images. An artist whose career has extended over many years and who defies classification, even within the movements of the ‘official’ Avant-garde, Hidalgo has been a source of unease for many due to the fact that he refuses to sign up to the political approaches that seek to grab power for themselves, to launch an attack on it from a clandestine position or to oppose it. Instead, he has opted to have nothing whatsoever to do with any form of organised expression (political or artistic) beyond his own anarchistic concept of art (making him an ‘anartist’) and life.
Hidalgo never made overtures to museums as educational or promotional institutions, still less as bodies that might legitimise something that was important to him. So much so that Hidalgo is able to accept that what he does is not even art but mere proposals aimed at the mind and the senses and resolved in the form of music, poetry, gestures, objects and photographs, which are simply a by-product, the secondary consequence of the main ‘photographic action’.
His most radical feat is to have remained faithful over the course of five decades to artistic ideas (a loyalty that has not, however, prevented him from making forays into various different areas), to have avoided succumbing to the temptations of the marketplace despite the financial difficulties this stance entailed, to have never wavered in the face of incomprehension or indifference, to have retained his composure in the face of silence, to have persisted in sowing seed in a field in which numerous other artists have since found the source of the meaning of their works. Many young artists today see Hidalgo as the clear predecessor of the work they are engaged in, work which can now at last be done with a naturalness that was absent in the earlier decades in which Hidalgo—a ‘young’ man aged over 80—pursued his métier.
The last decade witnessed the recognition of the artistic work of ZAJ, a collective that Hidalgo was a member of, in the exhibition organised by the Reina Sofía in 1996. 1997 saw the revelation of his personal career in the retrospective at the CAAM, which included work he had done from 1957 to the time of the exhibition. That same year, Hidalgo decided to make his home in the village of Ayacata on Gran Canaria, where he has embarked on a new phase in his creative evolution, the latest stage so far, in which he focuses more on objects and photography than in earlier periods of his work. Juan Hidalgo’s latest work descends to us from the peaks of Ayacata at around 1,100 metres above sea level. This is his most recent work… for the moment.