CLIENT: MUSEO ICO
STATUS: COMPLETED (2018)
CURATORS: Joaquin Vaquero & Marina Villalobos
DESIGN AND COORDINATION: Marina Villalobos
The purpose of this exhibition is to narrate a very specific stage in the vast production, both architectural and pictorial, of Joaquín Vaquero Palacios; the period from 1954 to 1980. Over these years he collaborated closely with Hidroeléctrica del Cantábrico (HC) in the construction of five power plants in Asturias: Salime, Miranda, Proaza, Aboño and Tanes. At the same time he designed the Miesian office building for HC’s headquarters in the city of Oviedo. But this story starts a generation before that, with his father.
Narciso H. Vaquero (1866-1964) was an outstanding character in the history of HC. He was Chairman and General Director of the entity for almost half a century, manager of the power plant at La Navia and he oversaw the first steps in the electricity supply of Oviedo.
Joaquín Vaquero Palacios (1900-1998) studied architecture in Madrid and brilliantly combined his work as an artist and architect with an insatiable hunger for knowledge and experimenting. Years later, the managers of HC entrusted him with the artistic integration of the dam at Grandas de Salime (1954-1960), the first in a series of projects carried out in Spain in the spirit of a “Gesamtkunstwerk”, combining engineering, architecture, painting, design and a perfect setting to create a unique construction of Pharaonic dimensions. We should highlight the sensitivity and modernity of the HC managers at that time in the mid-twentieth century, and of course the existing link with the company, as fundamental factors in the materialization of the first of these projects.
The scale of the challenge was never a problem for Vaquero, but rather an incentive, a premise implanted in the genetic code that conditioned the way he took on not only the professional side of his life but also the vital and daily aspects. This colossal project was developed under these parameters; his son Vaquero Turcios accompanied him, just as Vaquero Palacios himself had done with his own father, and ended up taking part in the designs of some of these spaces.
I hope that the family fusion in this exhibition is capable of showing how a saga of creators, artists, engineers and architects indistinctly focused their lives and their creative production on achieving what we could call a “Gesamtkunstwerk”.
Joaquin Vaquero Ibañez, curator