Born in Barcelona in 1955, Jaume Plensa studied at the city’s Escola de la Llotja and the Escola Superior de Belles Arts. Since the eighties, he has spent short periods working in Berlin, Brussels, England, France and the United States, although Barcelona continues to be where he lives and works. One of the most internationally recognised sculptors at the turn of the twenty-first century, recently Plensa has focused his work exclusively on the human figure, where matter and the word are vectors that converge. At the beginning of his career, in the 1980s, his sculpture was anthropomorphic, with expressionist volumes of wrought or cast iron suggesting human landscapes with totemic and primitive echoes.
After the Conceptualism of the seventies, art was immersed in Neo-Expressionism and new figurative currents. But Plensa’s sculpture quickly refined references to architecture, walls and geometric forms that were emptied of matter and brought closer to a literary dimension. Plensa elaborated small, translucent cell-like spaces that evoke the absence of the human body and the solitude of being, and which brought him wider recognition. His sculpture dematerialised and earlier materials such as iron, bronze, aluminium, plastic, alabaster and glass gave way to light, sound and words. Around the time of the Millennium, Plensa began producing oversized heads and male and female figures. In a dematerialisation of the sculptural process, some of them appear as a web of letters that reveal the emptiness of the interior space. Others are naked figures of different ethnic groups who denounce the vulnerability of human beings and claim universal human rights.
Since his first solo exhibition in 1980, he has exhibited throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Of note are exhibitions at the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (1996); Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1997); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1997); Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (1999); Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid (2000); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2010), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, England (2011); Basílica San Giorgio Maggiore (Venice Biennale, 2015); and MMoCA, Madison, Wisconsin (2016). He has also made projects for the theatre and opera, especially for the Catalan company La Fura dels Baus. A significant part of his production can be seen permanently in public spaces in cities in Spain, France, Japan, England, Korea, Germany, Canada, Holland and the United States, among others.