Past exhibition

Antoni Tàpies

Fourteen Paintings
26 March–26 April 2003

The fourteen works in this exhibition reveal Tàpies’s continued involvement in the nature of his materials. He mixes powdered pigments, sand, marble dust and varnish to create rich, heavily layered surfaces which he freely marks with a variety of uneven creases, deep incisions, and gestural scores, as well as the imprints or inclusion of everyday objects. The combination and transformation of the different substances turns his paintings into a kind of alchemy. The artist draws on both Western and Eastern philosophies and religion. His manipulation of raw materials and use of humble objects reflect his assertion that ‘My personal god is not to be found in heaven but on earth, as in the wisdom of the Orient.’ The gouged surface of ‘Ala vermella’ (Red Wing), for example, reveals the image of a severed limb and foot, a blood-red dagger and an angel-like kneeling figure. This work looks back to a Hindu legend in which a holy man cuts off his leg to feed an animal. Several works in the exhibition include cryptic numbers, letters and symbols, in addition to the many examples of A’s, T’s and crosses that abound in his art. Tàpies has stated: ‘My works are often paintings, objects and poetry in one: in a way they are visual poetry.’ The necessity of change is a persistent theme of Tàpies’s art. The processes of healing and renewal pervade many of the works in the exhibition. In ‘Collage del raspall’ (Brush collage) the juxtaposition of a brush with an open mouth evokes ideas of cleansing and purification and refers to a Buddhist saying that after speaking the name of anything holy it is better to wash the mouth. The ancient emblem of a coiled snake, molded from dark sand, of ‘Espiral 3’ (Spiral 3) wraps in upon itself as if caught in an infinite process of rebirth.

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