Writing about relevant artists who are no longer among us is not an easy task. It feels like there is always something left unsaid. When it comes to a multitalented creator who excelled in visual arts, sculpture, theatre, music and poetry – as in the case of Pau Lluís Fornés – it is impossible to cover it all. 

Pau Lluís Fornés (Majorca, 1930-2006), who was a multidisciplinary artist since the day he was born, began his pictorial career under the guidance of his master Pedro Quetglas ‘Xam’; however, since the beginning, he opted for a very personal expressive language, different from the rest, which is why he can be considered a self-taught artist. From an early age he dissociated himself from the post-impressionist and post-modernist trends that were highly prevalent on the island, in order to delve into his figurative universe of dreams and enigmas. 

He held his first individual exhibition at the Circle of Fine Arts of Majorca and continued his exhibitions in Madrid, New York, Paris, London, Amsterdam and other European art capitals. He lived in Madrid and Barcelona for several years, but remained deeply attached to his homeland.

Just as a creative alchemist, Pau Lluís Fornés has been one of those artists who never stopped exploring new fields, either in real or imaginary new worlds; and therefore, those never stopped growing. 

His style is voluptuous, heavily baroque and filled with symbolism. There is this dreamlike universe in all his work; his characters are not made of flesh and blood, nor his objects are material. They are woven out of dream fabric. Reality underlies the veil of a dense, ethereal atmosphere that at times drags us towards despair and madness, and at other times towards an undaunted resignation. 

His figures of lyrical faces, his delicate atmosphere of suffocation, flowers, fruits, still lifes bathed in silver and gold schemes, unleashing an orderly disorder in a superposition of layers, chaotic and structured at the same time. 

Despite the nostalgic nature of his work, in which loneliness, death and madness often coexist and overlap, Pau Lluís Fornés often leaves a glimmer of light towards hope. Unlike his counterpart Joan Miquel Roca Fuster, Pau L. Fornés offers in his canvases some chance of tenebrism, a commitment to life and for life. 

The influences of the pre-Raphaelite and symbolist painters of the 19th century are perceptible in his work, and his sympathy towards Cubism and Surrealism techniques are evident. The amalgam of colours in his palette covers almost the entire chromatic scale, using the different shades at will, with no regard whatsoever for the objective reality of the motifs depicted on his canvases, combining oil paint and acrylics indistinctly. 

We cannot overlook the intrinsic relationship that Pau Lluís Fornés held with literature, and his close partnership and friendship with significant creators such as Llorenç Villalonga, Blai

Bonet, Camilo José Cela, Josep María Llompart, Margalida Magraner, Bartomeu Fiol and Rainer Maria Rilke, among others. 

Thanks to his multidisciplinary traits and his predisposition towards new goals and projects, he left a deep and disparate mark on his legacy. He stood out as a muralist (Parlamet de les Illes Balears, Atalaya Club, Palma’s Royal Pub, La Pajarita…) and as a painter of religious themes (the altarpiece of Santa Catalina Tomas’ altar, the triptych of Sant Agustin’s main altar, the canvas of Nostra Senyora de Robines in Binissalem…). In 1963 the Circle of Fine Arts of Palma de Mallorca awarded him the Medal of Honour of the ‘Saló de la Tardor’. 

Among the main virtues that can be attributed to an artist, Pau Lluís Fornés fulfils both originality and the ability to maintain his own personal style that sets him apart from the others. Beyond tastes and trends, Pau Lluís Fornés is an artist through and through. An honest man with a Renaissance background capable of blending poetry, drama and music in a visual work. The sweetness of his characters’ faces is transformed into tears, and their angelic innocence into venereal sin. His sincere, chameleon-like versatility makes his works turn into artificial paradises. In his work, everything is possible, even if it is interwoven among the vines of dreams. 

Damián Verger Garau 

Art Critic and Legal Expert in Art and Antiques