Noir Central

February 2019

This painting, to which the artist gave the French title of Noir central, not only due to his familiarity with that language during his years of residence in Paris but also because of the support given to his oeuvre by a renowned French gallery, is like a variation of black tones, starting from the irregular octagon in the centre, which is more like a hexagon submitted to different pressures, smoothly expressed in the curving tensions at the angles. Inadvertently, the spectator’s eye tries to reconstruct the previous state of calm during which the polygon was embedded in the empty grey space in  the background. It is as if one witnessed a mineral displacement, a fault prior to the moment of crystallisation. This large canvas, entirely organised around oblique lines, produces an effect of gravity and heaviness. And being a construction entirely conceived by Palazuelo, it conveys a sense of mineral necessity, as if the petrification of these forms could not occur in any other way. We would not dare change anything in this irregular composition, a composition that does not rest on perpendicular lines or symmetries. The only warm space – to a certain point – is the small roughly triangular area to the right, which introduces a different coloured vein or, perhaps, the need of solar light, and for this reason the painting could be compared with one of those caves depicted by Ribera in which anchorites dwelt and which had two sources of light, one inside, soft and transcendental, and another source outside, seen through the entrance of the cave and showing more worldly tones.
Other reviews on Palazuelo’s oeuvre have referred to his architectural background and the telluric nature of his paintings, the extremely slow-moving (almost cosmic) rhythms to be found in them, as well as the importance of using black tones in his careful palette of colours. Noir central is the best proof of the fundamental importance of negative colours. Here they have been made into a premise for asserting the value of darkness, from which the whole scene painstakingly emerges before reaching the final outburst of light on the right side, whose source is to be found – as has already been pointed out – in Ribera’s chiaroscuro technique.
Julián Gállego, “Arte Abstracto Español en la Colección de la Fundación Juan March”, Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 1983, p. 109
Pablo Palazuelo, who had studied Arts & Crafts at Oxford, was already one of the artists present at Buchholz’s 1945 exhibition La joven pintura madrileña [young Madrid painting], where he coincided with Guerrero and some other artists who were trying – rather timidly still – to break away from the academicism that was then dominant in our art scene. Three years later, one of his drawings – which was reproduced in an art book published by Clan, “Homage to Paul Klee” –, already spoke to us of his Abstract approach. He was then living in Paris, a city he had moved to on that same year and from which he would not return until very recently. He would often meet Chillida and both artists exhibited their works at the same gallery: Maeght. He read Bachelard and the Gnostic writers, he studied Tantric art, and he devoted himself to recovering the time he had lost. He also absorbed the achievements of the historic avantgarde movements, chiefly Cubism and Abstract art. He felt closer to the Geometric artists than to the informalists, but in his works geometry showed no sign of rigidity, it was not a “programme” that he felt compelled to follow. And the fact that his strokes were anything but monotonous contributed efficiently to the absence of this rigidity.
Delving deeper into this space, Palazuelo has been one of the most solitary artists of Spain’s art scene. We cannot but talk about loneliness in his case, so isolated has Palazuelo been from the different groups, trends or even art circles. The fact that he has set up his studio in a castle – Monroy, in Cáceres – is somewhat symbolic of his situation. Although he has exhibited his works at private galleries in Spain on several occasions, Palazuelo has not as yet been the subject of a retrospective exhibition.
In parallel with his painting activity, Palazuelo has accomplished an important and original oeuvre as an engraver, including some dry-point linear engravings that are worth noting. He has also written close-knit poems. In recent years he has focused almost exclusively on three-dimensional works of art, in which, as with his painting, he employs a range of geometrical forms that are gradually interwoven with one another. His first works in this field date back to the 1960s and among them a particular coffered ceiling should be mentioned.
Noir central (1965-1967) is one of the artist’s masterpieces and one of the works that affords us a better understanding of the singularity of his vital and aesthetic project. The latent geometry beneath this painting has not been executed with the drawing pen. The way in which the various forms are organised and “communicate” with one another reminds us more of certain natural – biological or botanical – processes than of the paintings of the Russian Constructivists or Dutch Neo-Plasticists. As for the colours, they have not been applied in a cold or systematic way; behind those black, white, blue or ochre tones there are other colours and a very special vibration, a unique tension.
Juan Manuel Bonet, “Col·lecció March. Art Espanyol Contemporani”, Fundación Juan March, Palma de
Mallorca-Madrid, 1990, pgs. 38 and 40


No inscriptions on reverse


  • MAEGHT 1963, cat. No. 18, n/r, quoted cat. unpaged (reverse of back cover No. 137 of DLM, Paris, IV/1963) (dimensions: 204 x 335 cm)
  • Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, The 1964 Pittsburgh International. Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and
    Sculpture, Pittsburgh, Gallery Q, 30 October 1964-10 January 1965, cat. No. 214, n/r, quoted cat. unpaged (titled “Noir central (Central Black)”)
  • Städtische Kunstgalerie, Profile VII. Spanische Kunst Heute, Bochum, 24 September-29 October 1967. Travelled to: Kunsthalle Nuremberg, Spanische Kunst der Gegenwart, Nuremberg, 4 November 1967-7 January 1968; Akademie der Künste, Spanische Kunst Heute, Berlin, 11 February-3 March 1968, cat. No. 70
  • Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Hedendaagse Spaanse Kunst van Picasso tot Genovés, Rotterdam, 5 July-25 August 1968, cat. No. 80, b/w ill.
  • MUSEE DES BEAUX ARTS-LA CHAUX-DE-FONDS 1972, cat. No. 3, col. ill. unpaged, p. 9 (reproduced reversed), cat. p. 6 (dimensions: 204 x 335 cm)
  • MAEGHT-ZÜRICH 1972, cat. No. 5, col. ill. unpaged, p. 11 (bottom) (dimensions: 204 x 335 cm), cat. p. 24
  • IOLAS VELASCO 1973, cat. No. 3, col. ill. unpaged, p. 29 (dimensions: 204 x 335 cm), quoted cat.
  • Fundación Juan March, Arte Español Contemporáneo colección de la FUNDACIÓN JUAN MARCH, Madrid, 20 March29 April 1979, colour transparency in slide catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition
  • Fondation Maeght, L’Univers d’Aimé et Marguerite Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence, 3 July-3 October 1982, cat. No. 122, col. ill. p. 153, cat. p. 266 (dimensions: 204 x 335 cm)
  • Congreso de los Diputados, Arte Actual en el Congreso, Madrid, 16 January-28 February 1984, col. ill. pgs. 54-55, cat. p. 134 (dimensions: 205 x 325 cm)
  • Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de París, Cinq siècles d’art espagnol (2): le siècle de Picasso, Paris, 8 (10) October
    1987-3 January 1988, cat. No. 205, col. ill. p. 277 (titled “Noir central”, dimensions 205 x 325 cm) and Centro de Arte
    Reina Sofía, El siglo de Picasso, Madrid, 29 January-13 March 1988, cat. No. 195, col. ill. p. 267 (titled “Negro central” ;
    dimensions: 205 x 325 cm)
  • MNCARS-CAAC-IVAM 1995-1996, cat. No. 23, col. ill. pgs. 108-109, cat. p. 237 (dimensions: 204 x 335 cm)
  • MACBA 2006-GUGGENHEIM BILBAO 2007, n/c, col. ill. pgs. 128-129, quoted p. 127, cat. p. 324 (dated 1965)
  • MUSEU MARCH-MUSEO DE ARTE ABSTRACTO ESPAÑOL-MUSEO OTEIZA 2010-2011, cat. No. 63, col. ill. p. 95.
    Cat. (No. 77), col. ill. p. 301 and b/w ill. p. 251


  • Multiple Authors (“EFE”), “Exposición de arte español, en Nuremberg”, La Vanguardia, Barcelona, 19/XI/1967, quoted p. 16
  • CLAUDE GARINO, “Palazuelo. Un theoricien d’un espace imaginaire”, La Ville, No. 8, La Chaux-de-Fonds, VI-VII/1972, quoted and b/w ill. p. 22 (Reproduced reversed)
  • Multiple Authors, “Los espacios dinámicos en la obra de Palazuelo”, Blanco y Negro, Madrid, 24/III/1973, col. ill. p. 77
  • JOSÉ HIERRO, “Palazuelo. Exposiciones”, Nuevo Diario, Suplemento CLXXXIV, Madrid, 25/III/1973, b/w ill. p. 14
  • GÉRARD XURIGUERA, “Pintores españoles de la Escuela de Paris”, Ibérico Europea de Ediciones, Madrid, 1974, b/w ill. p. 216 (titled “Novi Central”)
  • JAVIER SEGUÍ, “Frente a la obra de Palazuelo”, Cuaderno Palazuelo, Revista de Occidente, Tercera época, No. 7, Madrid, V/1976, b/w ills. No.s 14-15, quoted and sketch pgs. 42-43, col. ill. p. 47
  • JOSÉ ALBERTO LÓPEZ, “Arte Español 77”, Ediciones Lápiz, Madrid, 1977, b/w ill. p. 53 (titled “Negro central”)
  • CLAUDE ESTEBAN 1980, cat. No. 79, col. ill. p. 88
  • JULIÁN GÁLLEGO, “Arte Abstracto Español en la Colección de la Fundación Juan March”, Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 1983, col. ill. pgs. 8 and 108, quoted pgs. 109 and 13
  • JUAN MANUEL BONET, “Museo de Arte Abstracto Español Cuenca”, Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 1988, col. ill. p. 16 (detail)
  • JUAN MANUEL BONET, “Col·lecció March. Art Espanyol Contemporani”, Fundación Juan March, Palma de Mallorca Madrid, 1990, col. ill. pgs. 12 and 39, quoted pgs. 15, 38, 40, cat. p. 112
  • MARIO ANTOLÍN-JOSÉ LUIS MORALES AND MARÍN-WIFREDO RINCÓN, “Diccionario de pintores y escultores españoles del siglo XX”, Vol. 10, Forum Artis Ediciones, Madrid, 1994-1998, col. ill. p. 3105
  • JUAN MANUEL BONET, “Museu d’Art Espanyol Contemporani. Fundación Juan March. Palma de Mallorca”, Fundación Juan March, Palma de Mallorca-Madrid, 1996, col. ill. p. 43, quoted pgs. 5 and 43
  • JUAN MANUEL BONET AND JAVIER MADERUELO, “Museu d’Art Espanyol Contemporani. Fundación Juan March. Palma de Mallorca”, Fundación Juan March-Editorial de Arte y Ciencia S.A., Madrid, 2003, cat. No. 20, col. ill. and quoted pgs. 60-61, cat. p. 165
  • BOSCO GALLARDO, “Comprender a Palazuelo”, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Departamento de Educación, Madrid, 2005, cat. No. 5, col. ill. p. 17 (reproduced vertically, dimensions: 204 x 97 cm), quoted p. 15
  • EDMOND CHARRIERE AND PAUL-ANDRE JACCARD, “Catalogue des collections de peinture et sculpture”, Institut suisse pour l’étude de l’art, Zurich-Lausanne, 2007, quoted p. 285
  • JUAN MANUEL BONET AND JAVIER MADERUELO, “Catálogo. Museu Fundación Juan March. Palma”, Fundación Juan March-Editorial de Arte y Ciencia S.A., Madrid, 2009, col. ill. pgs. 8-9 and 73, quoted p. 72 and 25
  • GERARDO ELORRIAGA, “Los años franceses”, El Correo, Territorios, Bilbao, 2/IV/2011, col. ill. p. 4

Catalogue: Azcona Foundation

Title: Noir Central

Date: 1963

Size: 203,2 x 336 cm

Support: Canvas

Technique: Oil

Photography: Juan March Foundation