Juan Antonio Guirado Espinosa was born in 1932 in Los Villares (Jaén).
Due to the lack of freedom of artistic expression under which Spain found itself under the fascist regime of General Franco, Guirado decided to immigrate to Australia in 1959. It is there, as a Spanish immigrant, that he discovered Oriental mysticism, which allowed him to progress in his artistic career under this spiritual influence. It was 1967 the year that Sgt Pepper took over the world and the bohemian set explored the mysticism of the Veda and Transcendental meditation, (introduced by the Yogi Mahrishi Mahesh) metaphysics and of course psychadelics.This was a moment of pivotal change as he navigated from portraits and realist Spanish landscapes to abstract surrealism and essentialism. This formed the foundation of the visions which are represented in his paintings from when he discovered his unique style of painting one day in Sydney Australia by throwing a pile of rags covered in turps (in frustration) at a painting he was working on. He was tired of painting in the classical style in which he had been trained and wanted to create his own perception of reality. Suddenly his word was changed as the oil paints started to thin and run creating a gateway to a new dimension of art and the possibilities that lay within.
The following two decades became the focal point of his artistic career which developed in Australia.
Juan Antonio Guirado’s work conveys the sorrow, longing and hope, universally found in the human condition. His paintings blend surrealism with prophetic visions of the future. Press attention around Guirado’s artistic legacy has been wide and prolific but perhaps one of the most poignant critiques entitled, ‘Arte y Misterio’, was written by the journalist Manuel Portillo Lopez; "Guirado has been described as the painter of the 21st century" by a London magazine.
We always find new facets in his creations, new images, which combined with an elaborate juxtaposition of forms transport us to a hidden world that is full of complexities, philosophical and metaphysical concepts that clash with this
materialistic and harsh society where stupidity is manifested in an extravagant and contradictory way. Thus the fight for the hidden aspirations of our heart, where material forms are transmuted like a vital force,
resulting in absolute existence. There is no doubt that Guirado's paintings convey his thoughts on the social problems that affect the world. He is a painter that is deeply engaged with his time, whom confronts today's reality of endless instability, which is the product of psychological and spiritual contamination. His art is an attitude, an internal feeling that informs us about the phenomena that lie beneath reality and hide behind his experiences.
Guirado exhibited in many of the most prestigious venues in Sydney, Australia, including the St. Yves Gallery, the Red Rose Gallery, the Campbell Gallery, Studio 4, El Dorado, the Craftman’s Gallery, the Douglas Gallery and the Sebert Gallery at the Argyle Center, as well as the Roundhouse at the University of New South Wales. In 1970, returning briefly to Madrid, Guirado held an exhibition in the capital’s Cultart gallery where the director of what was to become the Reina Sofia Museum bought a work for the collection. Throughout his extensive international career and over 54 years of working as a professional artist, Guirado’s works have been collected by personalities such as King Hussein of Jordan, John Caudwell, Tom Payne, J.D. Salinger, Cardinal Gilroy, Art Critic Manuel Quintanilla, Pedro Gilabert, Robert Galstian, Walter Schindler & John Schlesinger, to name a few. Guirado’s works have been either featured or donated to several museums across the globe, including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Malta National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, Malta, Casa Museo Gilabert in Arboleas, Spain and The Quentovic Calais Museum in France.
His visionary legacy continues through his daughter’s work, Catalina Guirado, and the Guirado Estate which is responsible for the preservation of his life and work. Since his passing in 2010 Guirado has returned to the international art world seeing his visionary paintings exhibited in a 2015 retrospective at the PONS Foundation Madrid, Environmentalism exhibition for ARCO in 2017 and solo three month show at Coral Gables Museum, Miami (alongside Carlos Cruz-Diez). Guirado was curated alongside Spanish masters Picasso, Miro, Tapies and the whose who of Spanish art to celebrate the University of Jaén’s 25th anniversary in 2018. The exhibition 'Parallel Visionaries' was curated by Laura Revuelta, Art Critic, Curator and Editor in Chief of ABC Culture, as part of an education program on Guirado and his historical relevance in Spanish/Australian art with a painting by Guirado being added to the Ceserio Rodreguez- Aguillera Foundation.
An online UNED Mooc university course for Spanish speaking students successfully launched in 2017, the interest in the artist proves that the themes of his paintings, Spirituality, environmental issues and politics, resonate with a fresh contemporary audience.
To speak of Juan Antonio Guirado is to speak of tradition and innovation. Within his works we can find a trajectory through the most profound Spanish tradition, with reproductions of its landscapes and its people; but we can also find a great proximity to the problems of society, humanity and the environment, and the condemnation of situations that are very current. The importance of his work resides in the relevance of his themes. His work forces us to look within ourselves to be able to reflect on what is happening around us. His work creates awareness. Guirado is the heir of a strong artistic tradition. In his work we can see the influence of Gauguin, Kandinsky, Abstract Expressionism and Bosch. The great impact he has had is evident in the press and in the works that belong to important collectors worldwide. Guirado could be conceived to be the artist’s artist and artist of humanity.
Laura Revuelta, Editor in chief ABC Culture ES.