Juana Céspedes is inspired by the contagious joy of dance. She imagines the convergence of souls in her hometown of Barcelona as city squares flood with dancers who are celebrating the return of warmer days. Watercolor allows the artist to depict human flow and unique folds in her handmade paper give dimension and allude to the urban spaces which inspire Céspedes.
As a self-taught artist, Céspedes’ work is an inspiring example of outsider art. Her life is a story of resilience. The artist was orphaned at thirteen and Céspedes was left to contend with life as the eldest of a family of seven in rural Andalucía. Her pursuit of art brought a meditative calm to her life but with no connection to the art world, Céspedes did not show her work as she developed her unique style.
Céspedes decided to infiltrate the artistic circle of Barcelona after years of solo creation. She joined the Agrupacion de Acuarelistas de Catalunya where masters helped her see the liberating power of abstract watercolor, with its ebbs and flows. In 2004, a trip to Venice would forever change her conception of light and composition and led to the idea of folding paper to transform the canvas into a three-dimensional object. As the folds catch the light, her artwork changes over the course of a day.
The artists’ journey spans 21 years during which Céspedes has developed a unique style always revolving around two major themes: urban space and human bodies. “Dance inspires me. I love its contagious joy. I’m often carried away by the image of swing dancers on an endless journey, from partner to partner—a journey that started in Harlem and found its way across the world.”
Céspedes’ work has been shown in more than 60 solo and collective exhibitions and awarded internationally.