Turbulent, mysterious, primal, yet refined, Joan Ponç (Barcelona, 1927 – Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, 1984) became known in the early 1940s within Barcelona’s avant-garde circles for his relation to the Dau al Set group, which also included the artists Modest Cuixart, Antoni Tàpies, Joan-Josep Tharrats, the poet Joan Brossa, and the philosopher Arnau Puig. His visionary drawings and paintings referenced magic, the unconscious, alchemy, and the drawings of the medieval Beatus manuscripts.
His rupture with this obsessive world followed a trip to Brazil where he would remain for 10 years. When he returned in 1962 he occupied an important place within the Catalan and Spanish art worlds with his drawings composed of prodigious strokes and detailed calligraphy. His series Cabezas trágicas [Tragic Heads], emblematic of this tendency, was exhibited in Barcelona in 1965, shortly after he was awarded the Drawing Prize at the Sao Paulo Biennial.
During the 1970s and 80s, he was intensely active as an illustrator and a stage designer, while his painting evolved toward simplicity and abstraction. Capses secretes [Secret Boxes] (1975 – 1980) was his last large project: an impressive series of drawings produced with India ink and watercolor in the waiting rooms of several hospitals in the south of France.