Goenaga banner web EUS-ENG 1010 x 400  








 2020-09-04 / 2021-01-10

Curator: Mikel Lertxundi


The exhibition is divided into six thematic areas that have been arranged in the main room in a chronological and evolving order based on Goenaga’s production, as well as an additional room focusing on his works on paper, acting as another parallel yet similarly autonomous route, given the fact that Goenaga views paper as not necessarily a preliminary step to painting.


1. Immersed in nature

Once he had settled in Alkiza in 1969, Goenaga intensely immersed himself in nature and the atavistic component latent in landscape. It is largely wild nature, but it does not ignore historical and magical presence. Series such as Itzalak [Shadows] (1972-1973), Belarrak [Herbs] (1973-1975) and Sustraiak [Roots] (1974-1976), among others. It was in the late 1970s that figures began to appear among his plant world in a number of series.
2. Figures and urban revelation

Figures began to prevail in new series between the 1970s and 1980s following his move to San Sebastián. He then began to focus on the present, on the urban, on the sensuality and rawness of Henry Miller, and his works became filled with colour yet nevertheless maintained the vigour and dynamism that had dominated his plant world.
A succession of series followed each other rapidly at this point, in line with German Neo-Expressionism and the Italian Transavantgarde: Profidén (1978); Antropomorfos y Andróginos [Anthropomorphic and Androgynous] (1978-1979); Basoan dantza [Dance in the Forest] (1979-1980) or Katástrofes [Katastrophes] (1980). But the reality that seemed to have erupted took shape once again soon after in two sets of works: some dominated by a dreamlike, ironic tone (1981) and others featuring the urban fabric, containing couples, characters and cars moving decisively (1981-1982).


3. An intimate universe

The year 1983 brought with it several important changes, such as the birth of his daughter Barbara and his return to Alkiza, which explain his return to an intimate universe predominated by self-portraits, family scenes and still lifes comprising everyday objects. Nonetheless, he still continued to work on the motif of couples and the urban environment, although now largely dehumanised. At the same time, he painted an entire series of works with similar abstract-like results. He moved to Paris at the end of the decade and began to focus on an abstract path, although adding external elements such as netting, mesh or plastic.


4. Rupestrian inspiration

From 1991 onwards, he returned with greater force to the archaic through the series Románico [Romanesque] and Arkeolojiak [Archaeologies], which would mark the path to be followed for much of the decade and even to this day.
They display a deep identification with the answers that prehistoric man was able to give to his relationship with nature and magic. Goenaga used a language of lines, circles and patterns on surfaces transmuted into cave walls. In fact, the geological world (rocks, fossils and minerals) would also become key inspiration for this period.
5. Abstraction versus figuration

The archaeological substratum persisted as the dominant theme in the early years of the 21st century, but he combined it with other motifs and always renewing his colour, now purer and brighter, influenced by his open-air work and a desire to make the spectator enjoy his paintings.
He painted a number of works for the group exhibition Bidaideak: compañeros de viaje [Bidaideak: Travelling Companions] during the summer of 2003, held in this same Kubo kutxa gallery.


6. From caves to landscapes

This alternation of motifs can also be seen over the past two decades. A commitment to colour became decisive again, with the exception of a break around 2011, in which his views shifted towards an unusual whiteness. He returns to the same subjects as always: nature, paths and the city (often viewed from the heights of mounts Urgull and Igeldo).


7. Works on paper

Works on paper have been crucial to Goenaga. Unlike most artists, for whom drawings and watercolours are a preliminary work in the process, they are often produced by Goenaga as a result of defining the forms and subjects in his oil paintings, but equally as a result of spontaneous work following its own path. The surface would always remain important, but especially so from the moment he begins to work with Eskulan handmade paper. Various engraving techniques have also found a place in his work since he began to employ them in the late 1960s.



 © Juan Luis Goenaga, Txangolariak [Excursionistas], 2014. Particular collection







Juan Luis Goenaga  (Donostia, 1950)




Born in Donostia/San Sebastián in 1950 and self-taught, an expressionist tendency can already be appreciated in the oil paintings and drawings of his childhood and teenage years. His interest in the Ur and Gaur groups in the 1960s would lead him to identify with his commitment to anchoring creation in Basque existential reality. He would come to define his own expression by the time he settled in Alkiza in the late 1960s and would develop this throughout his career in richly nuanced works that are always recognisable.


His work is the result of a patchwork of references interwoven by a direct contact with landscape, sites and the history underlying them, as well as scientific and literary readings, personal experiences and cultural and artistic heritage. Deeply identifying with past creators, he has assimilated the concepts or resources that adapt to his feelings and freely condenses these into his own work. Like other creators of his generation, he moves spontaneously between abstraction and figuration. The limits between both are vague and the same work can travel both paths in its conception. His recurring themes include nature, landscape, history, family and sex. Goenaga has shown himself to be capable of exploring a variety of paths and even occasionally contradicting himself, but always maintaining his own style far removed from trends and remaining true to himself.





Gided visits


Every Saturday

5.30pm in Basque / 6.30pm in Spanish


Whit prior booking, T 943 251939, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , in the gallery.



Whit prior booking, T 943 251939, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , in the gallery.


Oil painting workshop with Lucía Fermín




26 Septenber / from 5pm to 7.30pm / Bilingual ( Spanish and Basque)


For adults

Price 5€



Goenaga by... Mikel Lertxundi




15 October /  6.30pm / Spanish


Visit by Mikel Lertxundi, curator of the exhibition.




Looking Though Colour, with the Cristina Enea Foundation

17 October  /  fron 5pm to 7pm / Espanish and Basque

Family workshop-tour (8-14 years old)


Beginning at the Cristina Enea Environmental Resource Centre and ending at the Kubo kutxa gallery


Goenaga by…Roberto Sáenz de Gorbea


12 November / 6.30pm / Spanish


Visit by the collector and gallery owner Roberto Sáenz de Gorbea



Discard here the brochure of the exhibition.