Miquel Barceló. Obra sobre papel. 1979-1999 includes over two hundred drawings, notebooks and diaries, which display Miquel Barceló’s (Felanitx, 1957) experimental enthusiasm with materials, techniques and processes. In this way, the artist works with elements such as volcanic ash, seaweed, by utilising plastic and the aesthetic of the holes caused by termites in different papers and boards.
The exhibited pieces also allow us to review his usual topics, from his job as painter Peintre brûlant ses tableaux (1983), Peintre sans tête (1984) and Peintre par terre (1985), to fish, donkeys and skulls, whose presence increases from 1992. Conversely, his landscapes refer to the primordial forces and cycles of nature, which he lives and experiences in different regions of sub-Saharan Africa, where the artist spent long periods since 1988.
This chronological journey through his works on paper made between 1979 and 1999 shows that Barceló links poetry of the humble, initiated by Joan Miró, to the search for what is terrestrial in an unlimited concept by Jackson Pollock and the cult to the expressive potential of matter by Antoni Tàpies. To all this, the realist traditional of Spanish baroque of an ascetic type is added, especially evidenced in his still lifes.
Enrique Juncosa, the curator of the exhibition, says that the main theme of Barceló's work is "the inexorable passage of time." He relates this idea with the images of sediment and germination, deserts, glaciers, beaches, oceans and rivers. He also links time to the emblems of memory, museums, libraries and theatres present in Le Louvre, grande galerie (1985) y Musée Guimet V (1996) and everyday scenarios, the workshop, kitchens or restaurants that populate his work.
Conversely, Barceló looks to the prolongation of natural phenomenology in what is pictorial by using pigments and sand. The ocean waves or references to the growth of flowers and herbs, are generated from the spots on paper produced from these materials. The artist emphasises his experimental will and from 1988 starts using varnish on paper, so that the medium is transparent. Thereafter he insists on the idea of transparency and the possibility of working with both sides of the sheet, trying to expand and reveal the hidden meaning of the image.
The exhibition includes a selection of books and journals, some of them unpublished until now, including: Palma de Mallorca (1978); París, Bolonia, Venecia, Nápoles (April-May, 1983); Nueva York (January, 1987); Gao (May, 1988); Coazhutte (March, 1990); Gran Bassam (January, 1991); París/Palermo (1995/1998). They all illustrate his artistic biography, they graphically and visually present his pictorial interests and emphasise reputation as a nomadic artist.
Sala La General, Granada (December 2, 1999 - January 31, 2000); Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro (March - April, 2000); Museo de Artes Visuales, Montevideo (June - July, 2000); Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (September - October, 2000)
Museo Reina Sofía Publications