SELF-TAUGHT ARTIST JOSEP PUJIULA HONORED FOR ELABORATE INSTALLATIONS
78-YEAR-OLD ARTIST RECEIVES LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL HONORS
Josep Pujiula i Vila, whose labyrinthine installations outside the village of Argelaguer (Girona), Spain have been featured in books, films, articles, TV, and radio, has simultaneously been honored by the regional government as well as by one of the most prestigious juries for public artworks internationally.
On October 16, 2014, the Consell Comarcal (the regional government of the county that includes Argelaguer and environs) voted unanimously and across party lines to declare Pujiula’s work a “Bé Cultural de Interés Local,” a local cultural heritage site. This official designation builds on the legalization of the site, which took place the preceding July, and confirms that the regional government will work to protect and preserve what remains of Pujiula’s works. The government was impressed not only by the efforts of the Argelaguer community to save this important public art installation, but by the receipt of a petition begun by SPACES’s Director Jo Farb Hernández, which received more than 1100 signatures by art admirers living in 38 countries around the world.
Josep Pujiula, known as “Garrell” or the “Tarzan of Argelaguer,” has spent almost forty-five years improvisationally constructing a variety of structures, including towers reaching close to 100 feet in height and labyrinths approaching one mile in length, all out of materials found locally. No formalized or written plans ever existed for his elaborate constructions. The constructions were full of personal histories, connections, and experiences, and this fusion of his art with his life became a total synthesis that dominated his days. Yet he was forced to completely dismantle his structures three times due to governmental regulations or mandates; nevertheless, he always returned to the site and began to build again, each time creating a unique and complex series of structures that evidenced his increasingly refined aesthetic and technical abilities. Over time, Pujiula’s work has become known as one of the most unique, most monumental, and most compelling art environments worldwide.
At the same time that the regional government was formally acknowledging the importance of Pujiula’s work, the larger art world was also taking notice. In 2013 Hernández nominated him for the International Award for Public Art, a joint venture of Chinese and American public art curators and administrators. Although nominations came in from all corners of the world, only 120 of the most promising were selected for full research, apportioned to seven global regions. In the fall of 2014, it was announced that Pujiula is one of seven finalists for this award, representing all of Europe, including the Russian Federation. While other self-taught artists have been considered in previous years for this global honor, none before has achieved the status of being one of the final commended seven. Pujiula plans to attend the award ceremony in New Zealand in June 2015.