August 1, 2013

Exhibition Tapies From Within, Foundation Tapies and National Museum of Art of Catalonia, Barcelona

Exhibition Tàpies From Within
Antoni Tapies Foundation, Barcelona
National Museum of Art of Catalonia, Barcelona
Through November 3, 2013

In a joint exhibition held in two venues, the Fundació Antoni Tàpies and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) are bringing you the exhibition Tàpies: From Within, curated by Vicent Todolí. With a selection of more than 140 works going from 1945 to 2011, the exhibition puts the emphasis on the artist’s untiring and even obsessive experimentation and the development of his iconography and his vocabulary of signs, matter, colours and everyday objects.

In his first involvement with the figure of Antoni Tàpies, Vicent Todolí offers us an unusual view based on a selection of works from the artist’s own collection, complemented with works belonging to the Fundació Antoni Tàpies Collection. The exhibition ventures an approach to Tàpies not subject to what we know, so much as to what the artist’s itinerary reveals. Antoni Tàpies reserved a large part of his work for his studio and for the foundation. The exhibition Tàpies: From Within, in this respect, has been conceived exclusively on the basis of the works kept at the artist’s home, many of them unknown until now, and at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, and focuses mainly on two aspects of his extensive production, which the artist himself mentions in his Memòria personal. On one hand are the ‘matteric’ or mural paintings, which we find mainly in the rooms of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, and on the other are the poor objects and materials, which can be visited at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

Vicent Todolí’s project sets out to emphasise the freedom of defining, as conditions and limits, places like the studio, the home and the artist’s foundation, nearby, intimate places that accumulate Antoni Tàpies’s works and periods. The exhibition, therefore, doesn’t try to establish an order in these works or categorise the studio works, but makes a point of preserving its paradoxes, its waste, its contradictions and surprises.
‘Towards the end of 1958, I greatly increased … the works done with what is called poor material. I felt the need to persist and go deeper with the entire message of what is insignificant, worn or dramatised by time. Alongside the large mural compositions –aloud or in silence–, the day’s refuse. In fact, it was the most conscious resumption of subjects that had often attracted me. In my research, I had discovered this material, one I find loaded with strange suggestions, which is cardboard. A grey, anonymous material that won’t be easily manipulated, for which very reason the slightest mark of the hand torments it and destroys it. But the piece of cardboard, the box, the lid, the tray …, dirty clothes (socks, T-shirt, underpants...), old furniture, everyday objects, not used as a representation or theme in the picture but as real bodies, objects... And in this sense I’ve been influenced by or related to some Dadaist forerunner, Duchamp, Schwitters... But there are other aspects of the ‘ascetic’ function, of the ‘sacralisation’ of the world around us which I’ve referred to... Of the ‘supreme identity’ of Samsara with Nirvana. The use of new materials, collage and assemblage, became quite widespread among some new artists of that time.’ -- Antoni Tàpies, Memòria Personal, Barcelona, Crítica, 1977: p. 331

The exhibition Tàpies From Within at the National Museum of Art of Catalonia - MNAC

The exhibition at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya shows the evolution of Antoni Tàpies’s work through a tour taking in the whole of his artistic production, from 1945 to 2011. From his first paintings, done in the 1940s, Tàpies embarked on an aesthetic research that involved experimenting with materials and shapes, leading in the 1950s to a form of expression of his own, the ‘matteric’ paintings, which earned him international recognition.

From the pastiness and thickness of the paint in the early years to the inclusion of new materials like varnish, latex and sheet metal in the following decades, the exhibition shows Tàpies’s perpetual interest in matter from two different but complementary points of view: as a rejection of the traditional artistic language and as a synonym for change and transformation. Throughout the exhibition one can see the artist’s untiring experimentation and the development of his iconography and his vocabulary made up of signs, matter, colours and everyday objects, as well as the conception of the work of art as a vehicle for the relationship with mystery, the forces of the universe and of nature.

The selection offers a new vision, accepting the freedom and the limitations of starting only with what the artist had kept for himself, his family and the Fundació Antoni Tàpies. A point of view that doesn’t set out to establish categories for the works so much as to exhibit them and reveal their tensions, contradictions and paradoxes.

The first exhibition presented by the Museu Nacional following elimination of the 1940 cut-off date for its narrative is a retrospective of an artist who is central to the whole of the second half of the 20th century. For Antoni Tàpies, the Museu Nacional was an essential point on his vital itinerary, where he found the Romanesque roots to his work.

The exhibition Tàpies From Within at the Antoni Tapies Foundation

Parallel to this, in the rooms of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, the visitor find a selection centred on a series of works from between 1946 and 2009 that show Tàpies’s interest in poor materials and in objects: from the use of cardboard, threads and rope in the early works to assemblage and the incorporation of the object on the surface of the canvas. This becomes more evident after the late 1960s and the artist resumes them energetically in the 1990s. From straw, the baker’s tray, newspaper to a broken plate, sheets, blankets, doors and windows, Tàpies makes use of these materials and objects taken from his immediate surroundings and makes them central features in his works. The selection showcases Tàpies’s wish to magnify what is considered small and insignificant to show that everything that is considered marginal can suggest essential ideas.

To accompany the exhibition Tàpies: From Within, a documentary called Tàpies is showing in the auditorium. Made by Clovis Prévost and produced by Maeght, with music by Carles Santos and the collaboration of Joan Brossa, the film shows how the work Pintura amb grafismes (Painting with Graphics, 1969) was produced, at the same time as it contextualises it with images of the studio in Barcelona and in Campins.

Upcoming Exhibitions at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies: 
Antoni Tàpies. Collection, # 6, November 14, 2013 - February 9, 2014