José María Gimeno Ávila (Barcelona 1937 – Madrid 1987) signed his works with the pseudonym Yo, Gimeno (I, Gimeno). His oeuvre spanned every field: comics in the magazine Chicos, advertising, window dressing, animation in the Estudios Moro, murals for Renfe (Spanish Railway) and architects, and the decoration of entrance halls, cafes and restaurants. He also collaborated with TVE (Spanish national television) on the programmes El planeta imaginario, La cometa Blanca and La mansión de los Plaff and was Artistic Director for the magazine PRAG and its annual. Besides his pictorial endeavours, a large part of his work could be found in the world of publishing: Santillana, Santiago Rodríguez, Anaya…
Imbued with North American illustration (a big connoisseur of Push Pin Studios, founded by Milton Glaser with his ensemble of magnificent illustrators) he honed his own seemingly disjointed style, expertly distributing space in each composition to break the Neo-Baroque density he was predisposed to. This was blended with his drawing expertise, be it with the pen or brush, airbrush or scratch technique, or the interchange with Indian ink, watercolour, gouache, acrylic and oil on a wide range of supports – cardboard, wood, cork and metal plates. His finesse, engulfed in vast, self-taught culture, shaped his legendary character and also had a hand in the unique way he dressed and the cultural tradition that stemmed from his exquisite relationships with the cultural world at the time. During those years, keeping abreast of events overseas meant someone that could be termed as a ‘whiz’.
Like Morillas, Pla Narbona, Giralt-Miracle and others from his generation, Yo, Gimeno was a pioneer in the concept – very much from the sixties – of fusing the pictorial with illustration. The establishment of Grupo 13 in Madrid and FAD in Barcelona confirmed what were until that point “islands” of creation without a group vocation; associations that formalised the great “continent” that entailed searching for new definitions of the illustrator’s craft. At the time they were called graphic artists or designers to isolate the nineteenth-century concept of drawing and painting; trends, when all is said and done.
What we are exhibiting here is a selection of covers Yo, Gimeno created for UOMM (The Spanish Merchant Marine Officers’ Association), highly appropriate for the time. The direction of the new magazine was particularly congruent with his own approach over 26 editions (in actual fact 25 given that 22 and 23 were doubles), which, with numerous registers, put forward the idea of stylistic unity that gave the magazine a marked and distinguished identity. A fitting idea from a design, or graphic, pioneer.
By Javier García del Olmo