Antoni Tàpies

Tàpies and magic. Pro interpretatio.

Prats Nogueras Blanchard, Madrid
Apr 13 - Jun 1, 2024
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Curated by Joaquín García Martín

With the onset of Modernity, there emerges a newfound appreciation for the diverse, the innovative, and the youthful. The once-revered master, who knows his work, becomes the old, stagnant academic. The new ways of understanding art, and of commercializing it, will prioritize a constant novelty, reducing each artist's name to a period within their career deemed significant, while disregarding their earlier work and above all, the later work, beyond a certain moment anointed as the Good one. The realm of Art History, once dominated by the Titans bearing the Eternal Flame, is now devoured by the Young Savages like Orpheus by the Bacchantes, who seek their place at the top, especially that of the Market.

The myth of Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012) turns 100 years old as one of the sacred names in Spanish visual arts. His importance as one of the great creators of the second half of the 20th century remains indisputable. In the 90s, the late Valeriano Bozal positioned and contextualized him in his Spanish Art of the 20th century in Spain, within the Summa Artis collection, firmly establishing Tàpies as a cornerstone of the post-war era in Spain. Bozal contends that "in 1957 he has defined his language with maturity, he currently acquires the profile of a classic figure". Maturity and classicism, and he still has 55 years left in his career. Bozal himself emphasizes that he is "an artist for the museum, if you will, of the museum, but an artist who has not died, whom the museum has not embalmed or shrouded". The author acknowledges the futility of encapsulating the richness of Tàpies's work within the confines of traditional art manuals. Creation beyond the arrows of Alfred Barr.

 Indeed, Tàpies's work has often been confined within the boundaries of what some critics label as "informalist formalism," an oximoron that confines him within a narrow spectrum of sacralized grey and black tones, and obscures the vast complexity of the labyrinth he contructs with his paintings.

Latin interpretatio is defined as the explanation of a word by the use of another word or words that have a similar or synonymous meaning. It also "consists of changing the mode of expression to achieve a stylistic effect. A verse text can be interpreted in prose or a prose text can be changed in its form of expression, improving its style by emulating the proposed literary models". We could therefore approach Tàpies's work from alternative viewpoints, shedding new light and encouraging us to perceive it through different lenses. Much like the symbolism of the 12th card of the tarot, Le Pendu [The Hanged Man], which urges us to hang upside down to see the problems from another place. The tarot offers us the first possibility. 

A proposal to recover the magic of  Tàpies's painting. Particularly in his final works spanning the last decade of his life. To vindicate an artist who is in full command of his abilities. Who no longer has any economic, social or professional limitations. With his own style, with which he moves confidently. Without having to be accountable and without worrying about anything but the canvas before him.

To do this, let us look for clues in the paintings, elements or images that can provide us with a different reading. A pyramid, a cat, the moon, a snake, an eye, the arrow, the ladder... These are all symbols that appear and are repeated throughout the history of magic in the East and West.

Magic understood as the art of reaching the supernatural.

Of Revealing the Hidden.
Reviving the Inane.
To remake Nature.

All these are the capacities of the Magician. And of the Artist.


— Joaquín García Martín

With many thanks to Teresa Tàpies, Toni Tàpies and Margarita Burbano.

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Installation

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Selected Works

Antoni Tàpies
Nocturn

2010

Paint on wood

200 x 100 cm (78 34 x 39 38 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Triangle i fulles

2011

Paint on wood

116 x 89 cm (45 2132 x 35 132 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Triangle

2010

Paint and crayon on wood

65 x 81 cm (25 1932 x 31 78 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Dividit en diagonal

2007

Mixed media on wood

160 x 160 cm (63 x 63 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Sèrie Amor núm. 2.

2002

Crayon on paper

53.5 x 39 cm (21 116 x 15 1132 inches) framed, 67.8 x 53.8 x 4 cm (26 1116 x 21 316 x 1 916 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Sèrie Amor núm. 7.

2002

Paint and crayon on paper

53.5 x 59.5 cm (21 116 x 23 716 inches) framed, 67.8 x 53.8 x 4 cm (26 1116 x 21 316 x 1 916 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Sèrie Amor núm. 8.

2002

Paint and crayon on paper

53 x 39 cm (20 78 x 15 1132 inches) framed, 67.8 x 53.8 x 4 cm (26 1116 x 21 316 x 1 916 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Escala i espasa

2005

Mixed media on wood

200 x 170 cm (78 34 x 66 1516 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Sèrie Amor núm. 16.

2002

Paint and crayon on paper

53.5 x 39 cm (21 116 x 15 1132 inches) framed, 67.8 x 53.8 x 4 cm (26 1116 x 21 316 x 1 916 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Gat

2004

Mixed media on canvas

89 x 116 cm (35 132 x 45 2132 inches) framed, 92.8 x 119.2 x 5.8 cm (36 1732 x 46 1516 x 2 932 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Ondulacions ocres

2008

Mixed media on wood

200 x 100 cm (78 34 x 39 38 inches)

Antoni Tàpies
Home

1945

Oil on canvas

54.5 x 45 cm (21 1532 x 17 2332 inches)

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