De Mars

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich
    Private Collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    Miquel Barceló: The African Work, Dublin, IMMA Irish Museum of Modern Art, 25 June–28 September 2008, then travelled to Málaga, CAC Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga (11 November 2008–15 February 2009)
    Venice, La Biennale di Venezia – 53, Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Spanish Pavilion, Miquel Barceló, 7 June–22 November 2009

  • Literature

    Miquel Barceló: The African Work, exh. cat., Dublin: IMMA Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2008-2009, pp. 216–17 (illustrated in colour)
    Miquel Barceló, exh. cat., La Biennale di Venezia – 53. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Venice, Spanish Pavilion, 2009, p. 16

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The images and themes are not as important as the dust, the land, the hunger, pain and laughter, the guts of time, the fragility, the conflict between what endures and what changes.”

    “The images and themes are not as important as the dust, the land, thehunger, paint and laughter, the guts of time, the fragility, the conflict between what endures and what changes. Barceló confirms what he had intuited from the beginning. ‘Everything is at once old and new again. Africa is everywhere. Africa is the grandeur and drama of natural forces, the intensity of experience, the direct confrontation with the basic dimensions of life and death. This Africa exists in the bullfights’.” (Miquel Barceló quoted in P. Subiros, ed., Miquel Barceló: Mapamundi,, Saint-Paul: Fondation Maeght, 2002, p. 25)

    Barceló’s use of different materials in his large-scale paintings aims to express natural landscapes in their raw form. The painting De Mars, from 2006, suggests a barren landscape with cracks and holes in the paint applied with thick impasto brushes. The texture permeates the canvas itself, abandoning the viewer to an experiential process. The landscape of the island of Mallorca, where the artist hails from, recurs as a theme in his work. De Mars can be seen as a representation of sea waves but Barceló avoids naturalistic depictions and instead creates a poetic landscape that is the expression of his own imaginary world. The work of the non-representational surrealist Yves Tanguy comes to mind, and in particular the painting The Look of Amber from 1929 which shows a bare landscape sand and blue of infinite depth.

    In the American painter Robert Ryman’s paintings, the image is created by the layers of paint applied to the canvas. With his untitled white paintings, Ryman sensitizes us to the relationship between painted surface and underlying support. Likewise, from 2001 on, Barceló attached stretched canvas sheets to a large frame with a special mixture of paint so that the force of gravity would produce drippings, thick like candle wax, with a stucco-like consistency or that of spun sugar. Thus, the paintings give an impression of a subject in constant motion. For Barceló medium has the same importance as the pictorial subject. The canvas itself is turned into matter. The earthy elements bestow the painting with a sculptural quality. In De Mars, the rock-like aspects contain specks of colour, which are also present at the bottom and around the edges of the painting. In short, Barceló’s painting seems to combine minimalist and baroque elements at the same time.

    Barceló, an established artist who emerged from the 1980s Neo-Expressionist movement, divides his time between Mallorca, Paris and Mali; he is a “mobile pastoralist”, in the words of Bruce Chatwin. His travels influence his paintings and the artist once said “My life resembles the surface of my paintings” (R. Wolff, ‘Miquel Barcelo’, Art in America, April 2010). The Spanish painter achieved international recognition when he was selected for the 1982 Documenta in Kassel, Germany, where he met the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. He was also the first contemporary living artist to exhibit at the Louvre.

    “ My life resembles the surface of my paintings.” MIQUEL BARCELÓ

  • Artist Bio

    Miquel Barceló

    Spanish • 1957

    Drawing inspiration from work by Diego Velázquez and art-making practices of the Avant-garde, Miquel Barceló is perhaps most popular for his hybridization of traditional Spanish figurative aesthetics and thick, abstract brushstrokes. Barceló is inherently drawn to that which is multimedia, having received training in installation work, painting and ceramic. This ability to work across various mediums comes from the artist's hunger for travel and exploring new lands.

    Currently based between Mallorca, Mali and Paris, Barceló incorporates the visual aesthetics of his disparate countries seamlessly into his work. The artist's concern involves how to translate different modes of travel and culture into art-making. One recurring topic in his body of work is the ocean — the ultimate symbol of movement, displacement and the unknown.

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De Mars

mixed media on canvas
205 x 250 cm (80 3/4 x 98 3/8 in)
Signed, titled and dated 'Barceló III. 06 de MARS'on the reverse.

£250,000 - 350,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £713,250

Contemporary Art Evening

28 June 2012