Mislata-born Miquel Navarro, a Valencian artist with his own exhibition at Valencia’s modern art museum (IVAM), is the man behind the sculpture ‘La Fuente Pública’, or ‘The Public Fountain’. Seen as a city icon, this year Valencia celebrates the 30th birthday of this emblematic sculpture. Any tourist or visitor who asks a local Valencian what the official name of the sculpture may be surprised to find that there is hardly anyone who actually knows the official title. Inaugurated in 1984, it was almost immediately nicknamed ‘The Pink Panther’, ‘La Pantera Rosa’ in Spanish, which has stuck ever since. A change that Miquel Navarro seems to condone and accept, being rather out of his control.
Commissioned by the Aguas Públicas Institution, who manage Valencia’s water supply, with a budget of 30,000 Euros (five thousand in the old currency of pesetas), ‘La Fuente Pública’ or ‘La Pantera Rosa’ at the time was one of the first large-scale pieces created by Navarro for a public space. This sculpture also dramatically stood out from the urban landscape, endowing Valencia with a contemporary and innovative character. Water plays a significant role for this incredibly tall pole, and is returned to the irrigation channels of Valencia’s farmland. The sculpture stands on the Plaza Sanchis Guarner, a large open space often bustling with traffic as it was one of the main exit roads from Valencia to Alicante, as well as linking long avenues such as Peris y Valerio and Germanías with another important road, the Avenida Giorgeta.
The wide acceptance of Miquel Navarro’s work, although not immediately, enabled the Valencian artist to begin a successful trajectory in sculpture based on large-scale pieces in steel, iron and copper, such as ‘El Parotet’ (‘The Dragonfly’), also in Valencia.