José Antonio Sarmiento (b. 1956, León – Spain). He trained from a very early age as an artist with his mother, Alicia de la Puente, and in the School of the web known Leonés painter, Alejandro Vargas. Between 1974 and 1980 he devoted his efforts to painting, and worked as an illustrator in an advertising agency. In 1980, he moved to the country and began to work in ceramics using wood-fired kilns, inspired by the concept of bowls as objects of art; the work of Artigas, Miró, Bernard Leach, Hamada, and the tea bowls made by the Raku family, formed important points of reference for him during these initial phases of study.
Between 1980 and 1987, he travelled and worked on acquiring the technical experience necessary in order to be able to express himself freely: Hikidashi, slat and soda glazing and wood-firing (1300ºC); He built his own kilns, seeing this as an inseparable part of the creative process.
In 1988 he set up his studio in San Cibrián de Ardón (León), and built a noborigama kiln. Between 1980 and 1992 he undertook various commissions for murals (Luna sube y baja mareas, 1984, glazed ceramic removed from kiln while still red hot (3.5m x 1.5m), pine logs and smoke; Diputación de León Grant. For years he has continued to further his knowledge in the field of bowls (art/life), his over-riding interest in the present: a perspective which he shares with some Japanese artists.
In 1999 he met the prestigious artist Ryoji Koie (Tokoname, 1938), and this meeting confirmed him in his direction; the maestro became his mentor, introducing him to fellow artists in Japan during his stay in 2000. He returned to San Cibrián and built an anagama-noborigama kiln (combining the principles of both types of kiln), the only one of its kind in use in Spain.
In 2007 he established in Gothemburg (Sweden)
With a style close to abstract neo-expressionism, the character and personality of his work reflects the independence of his expression and the concepts he works with, unmoved by passing trends. He has worked towards a formal deconstruction of symmetrical volume, inspired by the natural daily evolution of his work and by the materials he handles. Starting from a sculptural perspective, he looks both to the purest roots of ceramics and to nature in order to then express himself from an informed position in contemporary art. It should be added that in relation to the pictorial nature of his work, he uses oxides and brush applied or expressionist dripped glazes, where the direct intervention of controlled white fire, air and ash can be fully appreciated. As a result of this expressive synthesis –inspired by the nature of the landscape in which he lives and works – his work has aroused the interest of some of the most respected art critics, both in Spain and abroad.
He currently lives and work in Gothemburg (Sweden) and León (Spain).
María Jesús Sarmiento