Miquel Barceló - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, March 7, 2017 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich
    Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
    Private Collection, London (acquired from the above in 1990)
    Christie's, London, 9 February 2005, lot 42
    Private Collection
    Christie's, London, 28 June 2011, lot 37
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    'In a bullfight, you can read what happened in the sand; it's a beautiful metaphor of painting because my paintings are like traces of what has happened there, all that happens in the head, in fact. The picture object is a bit like the sand of the arena, a sort of detritus of what took place there' (Barceló, quoted in Miquel Barceló: Mapamundi, exh. cat., Saint-Paul, 2002, p. 98).

    Executed in an array of light tones, España Económica explores the limitations of figuration and abstraction by Miquel Barcelo. As the title suggests, this textured landscape references the artist’s homeland. Painted in 1990, Spain’s economic, geographic and political situation is primary to the meaning of the artwork. The multifaceted map was accomplished with thick brush strokes and a combination of mixed media on a large-scale canvas, creating a pictorial ensemble with a supreme dramatic effect. The absence of central focus provides the viewer with the illusion of an endless landscape, igniting a sense of immersion and discovery. The eye wonders from the peaks of the snow-capped mountains, to the illuminated shores of the country’s coastline. Barcelo’s choice of colours and tones mimic a dry and arid topography, veiled by a thin layer of dusty sunshine. Given the size of the painting, the viewer cannot but feel drawn to an evocative and mysterious land.

    Miquel Barcelo often portrays landscapes and nature. He repeatedly incorporates the sea as a key element in his compositions, which might be related to his reminiscence of Mallorca, his island of origin.
    One of the reasons why he is successful in his depiction of such subjects is perhaps the time he spent travelling in different countries with various cultural influences, such as Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso. As the artist himself observes, 'Africa represents a kind of overall cleansing. The first reaction I always have when I arrive in Mali is to realise the uselessness of things. One paints out of pure necessity there. In Paris or here (in Mallorca), by always painting in the same studio, you come to forget the essence of the affair. In Mali I get back in touch with the essence of the act of painting' (Miquel Barceló interview with M. F. Sánchez, La Esfera, no. 10, March 1992, Miquel Barceló: 1987-1997, exh. cat., Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, 1998, p. 19). This meditation on the act of painting is palpable when one is confronted with España Económica.

    Barcelo was particularly influenced by the Avante-garde movement and American Abstract Expressionists such as Pollock, while on the other hand he studied the Baroque paintings of Diego Velázquez and Rembrandt. This unique combination evidently had an impact on Barcelo’s experimental method of expression, which constitutes an endless exploration of new forms, techniques, light perspectives and materials.

  • Artist Biography

    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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España Económica

signed, dated and titled 'Barceló IV. 90 "ESPAÑA ECONOMICA"' on the reverse
oil and mixed media on canvas
230 x 286.5 cm (90 1/2 x 112 3/4 in.)
Executed in 1990.

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £413,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 8 March 2017 5pm GMT