Miquel Barceló at the Spanish Pavilion. 53ª Venice Biennale

Miquel Barceló at the Spanish Pavilion. 53ª Venice Biennale

June 7th-November 22nd 2009

Winner of Spanish National Visual Arts Prize in 1986 and Prince of Asturias Arts Prize in 2003, the artist from Mallorca Miquel Barceló will represent Spain at the 53rd Venice Biennale opening this coming month of June.

Miquel Barceló

Mandala, 2008
Técnica mixta sobre lienzo, 235 x 285 cm.
Propiedad del Artista
Foto: Agustí Torres
Miquel Barceló. VEGAP, Madrid 2009

This exhibition overviews the last ten years of Barceló’s work with a special focus on his recent production, comprising about twenty mostly largeformat paintings and a selection of work in ceramic.

The most recent works come from the same time as when the artist was painting the gigantic dome at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. Barceló placed a number of canvases on the floor, which were randomly covered by the paint dripping from the ceiling. He then used these canvases as backgrounds on which to paint. The new pieces address three major subjects: primates, African landscapes and sea foam.

The first series consists of paintings of solitary gorillas, tying in with earlier works from the late 1990s depicting Snowflake, the albino gorilla captured by Spanish scientists in Equatorial Guinea who spent the rest of his life in the Barcelona Zoo. Snowflake was a true local celebrity and a tourist attraction in Barcelona. For Barceló, these paintings are to some extent selfportraits reflecting the solitude of the artist and somehow also alluding to the figure of the painter as an endangered species in an era dominated by new technological media.

The new African landscapes speak to earlier works from the mid 1990s and other small canvases from the present decade. They depict human figures, domestic animals, objects and vegetation and, in one case, life on the banks of the Niger River with fishermen and canoes. The images seem to appear and disappear in a sea of paint, in turn standing in as a metaphor of the vast expanse of the semi-desert landscape of Mali, whether on the banks of the Niger River, or the escarpments of the dispersed settlements in Dogon Country where the artist has a studio. Since 1988, Barceló spends regular periods of time in Mali.

The third group of works consists of white paintings representing the foam of sea waves in a virtually abstract manner. These new images are directly related with some of Barceló’s early conceptual works from the late 1970s when he explored the behaviour of pigments and matter. These new paintings are charged with great expressiveness in the contrast of a liquid subject in constant motion, the sea, with a purely material and static image.

Miquel Barceló

La Solitude Organisative, 2008
Técnica mixta sobre lienzo, 300 x 400 cm.
Colección Particular
Foto: Agustí Torres
Miquel Barceló. VEGAP, Madrid 2009

The exhibition also contains a selection of works from 1999, including other sea paintings, though never rendering it in a merely representational fashion, for the images are suggested in the behaviour of the material. In these paintings, image and background are one and the same. Also on show are works from the middle of the current decade, in which Barceló uses almost exclusively black and white in paintings verging towards abstraction. The images in these works are undercut by a kind of apocalyptic sensation not unlike an oil spill. They sometimes show barely glimpsed images of fossils and molluscs. Finally, there are other works from 2006 and 2007, depicting white desert landscapes.

The exhibition also showcases a group of ceramics, a medium central to Barceló’s work since the mid-nineties, reaching its zenith in his murals for St. Peter’s Chapel in the Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca.

    Images Courtesy Cano Estudio
    Images © Their respective owners / Miquel Barceló. VEGAP, Madrid 2009


Stampfli & Turci – Art Dealers

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~ by Stampfli & Turci on May 28, 2009.

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