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ABOUT JOKIN BURGO

by his friend Jesus Lizaso - sculptor

If the artist is born so, there are no circumstances which prevent his language being developed, at the same time he develops as a person. This gift is to be introduced in any aspect of his life.



Even when it comes to an artist who devotes a small part of his life to the subsistence, being a firefighter, a farmer or a sailor, the important thing is to remember that the true art is not built with the objective of selling, but with the explosion of transmitting what resides deep inside you. Therefore, the most basic survival could come from other sources. Or perhaps is not it also survival to do orders at the whims of a spectator? Resource that no doubt many artists submit, sometimes feeling fulfilled and others not. Or how many academic artists subsist out of other activities, such as teaching? It comes to my mind the great Zumeta that began painting conventional figures commissioned by the fair stalls. There is no excuse at all, you are or not an artist.



Conversely, I do not believe in genius, but I do believe in some brilliance a human being could make, even if for that you really need something that cannot be described. It is also true that everyone can feel inspired in some moment of his existence, but the artist needs that source continuously; if you are not involved and committed, the performances become casual and without any personal importance. As one of the great ones said, 'inspiration exists, but it has to find us working'. And, of course, I believe the painter I refer to works committed.



The artist creates for himself. It is true he needs to exhibit his work, for the only sense of existing. The eternal problem of Jokin Burgo (Bilbao 1974) is assumed and overcame after so many years committed to the means of expression. I would say that one cannot disassociate himself from what he is and what he does in his private life. The training of a person is a human modelling made of clay full of experiences: where you are from, who you go out with, what you do and what you live. This artist acquires very tough experiences, so tough they are out of the ordinary, worthy to mention at least as an important note towards his personality, later transmitted to his works.



It would be easy not to mention them, but not fair. It is important to think that for a few minutes, or even a few hours a year, he is in the first person a witness of serious accidents, saving lives, taking care of relatives and knowing sometimes that what once was life, now is as simple as a piece of meat. He does this all in command of a very studied and methodical protocol, but where improvisation is essential when undertaking these situations.



I imagine that after one of these proceedings, the exhaustion, the stress, and the pressure will be rewarded in your more intimate corner. In the study. This provides the relaxation and the oxygen Jokin Burgo needs as an individual committed to himself. To the painting. And with an entire universe of materials, smells, lights, and colours. The universe within stone walls, between the canvas and himself. No one else.



It would not be possible to talk about Jokin as a painter without knowing the hardness of the experiences hardly anyone could bear. As Frida Kalho would not be Frida without Ribera, or without her illness. Not a single artist truly is so without his experiences, without being what he is.



Since he was very young he had concerns about painting. It should be pointed out that being a child his mother used to spend her free time painting on glass, as craft mode. Being from Karrantza, a region within the Basque Country, wild, full of forests, his habitat has always been the baserri (* baserri, typical house from the Basque Country), together with values such as the family and the rural areas. Between the stone walls, the facet of painter already grew in his interior. A work from the 60’s (Woman Plucking Chicken) hung from one of those walls for many years; I would say it grew up with him. Without a logical sense, the idea of twisting with paint was already rattling around the head of that child. Precisely that smell that permeated the house was oil paintings, acrylics, resins and other materials his mother transformed into drawings. The smell Jokin still remembers and makes him feel at home.



He studied painting for three years at Unzalu Study in Bilbao. That is where, along with Juan Antonio Unzalu (his teacher), he experienced a new kind of painting with new textures and colours. He recognizes not being interested in drawing; what he was concerned about was the world of experimenting with none conventional formulas full of material, and providing reliefs. He spends a lot of time hidden in the study, trying and discarding many of these experiences without any scruples at all. Alone, self-taught, he only commiserates on himself. He is interested in opinions, or at least in listening, but he is still obsessed to obey his inner feelings. A difficult and tortuous road to admit his results with a high demand.



I first met him in an exhibition of art and antiques at the Alhondiga of Bilbao in 2011. I got the impression that the works exhibited dwelled with humility and with a component of madness when it came to the amount of works and the lack of expository judgment, more worthy of a lively artist that a steward.



In those times Jokin worked on none formal figuration, where a language could be appreciated via the portrait and in which something figurative was transformed into spontaneous deformations, giving the work a very personal feature and great hardness.
I knew the work "le antoline" and I understood that in addition to being emphatic with the work, this author needed large surfaces to express himself, to get lost in a wider world and to be able to discharge that energy that characterizes him so much. It is impressive to see him working. The place and his audacity clearly justify the size of the works.



He needs to leave traces of the strokes, traces of those moments when he has thought, where he has reflected for tenths of a second. Drunk with textures and colour. Expensive shapes, imaginable, real, but without such an obvious reality.
But the need to ask me for opinion was that of a castaway getting hold of a brush as the only way to not die. That desire and persistence was what actually his works talked about. Works I have understood over time, through living together with him. That is what he felt; although it was messy, it was true. What we say, authentic.
It was on a trip to Barcelona by car, where hours went by so quickly. A journey through a city where we wasted no time, savouring galleries and museums, and sharing opinions about what we were living, while we interviewed personalities related to art and very experienced ones. A journey where we recharged batteries and energy in order to then go to our studios and bleed everything we had inside. At that moment I felt the need to know his work more in depth.



Recently, I took part in an association in Madrid, where there are three works of mine along with three paintings by him. Very surprised, I congratulated him for his audacity, in one of the moments in his career where he protested, in his way, and through the paintings, but with none a conventional basis.



As well as other artists use basis such as fabrics, wood, cardboard, paper or even walls, in this occasion it is more spectacular than ever. Looking through the garbage for paintings the market itself throws out of fashion or trends of all kinds, as decoration or amateurs, Jokin recovers them from the backside, retaining the odious aspect of those paintings that nowadays anyone but him would take. He introduces or impregnates them with his own language, taking advantage of the true beauty that remained on them and nobody could see. The old and even broken stretcher and the backside of a virgin fabric were the spaces where he worked on an improvisation full of imagination and mostly of inspiration.



Protest painting, where he rejects on a market and a social situation in which he was made apart for being who he was, without getting to know him. On the hard blows every artist suffers when he wants to spread the truth about the why. Flavours that remain in my retina when seeing the globalization of one of the paintings, where you notice the marks of the brush; where the spots make up a whole and where the wood that surrounds it is part of the painting itself.



When I arrived in Bilbao I went without hesitating to the hotel Meliá, where in the main hall it was placed one of his works, at first with an agreement where the hotel chain was interested in permanently placing his work in a privileged place, together with other Meliá collection works, specifically Manolo Valdés, Antonio Clave or Millares…



I arrived to visit him at his study thinking on my way about the works I was going to find in this new stage. He had told me a lot about his work, describing it with such accuracy I could imagine it and understand everything it said.



Before opening the door, I noticed curious odours that mixed in my sense of smell: the essence of oils, acrylics and chemical products. He had already mentioned that in many days he had a binge of those fragrances to the edge of poisoning. Because of his impetus and excitation about getting to the studio to work, I imagined Jokin was not careful with anything.



I knocked at the door, as it had no bell, walked inside and instead of looking at him, I lost my glance around the whole space, at the same time I greeted him. In tenths of seconds I noticed the chaos of the artist. The tidy untidiness. The dirty and wonderful disorder of any visceral study. The formats were large, his paintings needed it. A vastness is needed for savouring those textures. The game of materials was a research work to me, and the composition of the works a job of meditation.



Although the paintings cluttered, he showed them to me with sensitivity, each time he moved them. When it came to dealing with them, he knew what he was doing; the softness of a mother with her children was the same parsimony. Grouped by moments, not by styles or sizes, by emotional moments in which he was when he got to his study:



- "These three here, I made them in an afternoon when my mother was very serious. These two in here, I have spent my whole life to finish them. I began working on them when I ended up a relationship…"


There was one in a round format, 2.10 m in diameter, that I immediately guessed the day he painted it he had a good hit in the head.



He is a happy man. Optimistic. Insecure but cheerful. He takes the brush and does without any fear. And as he does not like, does and redoes again. He sits down. He enrages and sometimes it comes out and others it does not. Jokin is a prisoner of these situations. He lives them.