I had never heard of Antoni Tàpies before I arrived in Barcelona. But in no time at all I found fascination with the artist and was keen to learn about his diverse artworks. Fundació Antoni Tàpies (the Antoni Tàpies Foundation) was one of the first stops on my traveller’s checklist.
Tàpies was born in 1923 in Barcelona and is one of the best-known Catalan artists of his time and to emerge after World War II. His works have strong links to the Surrealist and Dadaist movements and he utilized mixed media and non-artist materials including toilet paper! This mixed media approach is evident in his works on display at Fundació Antoni Tàpies.
Although the exhibition is by no means large, it is worth the visit if you enjoy contemporary works and if you have the ability to look beyond the obvious – a theme that features throughout Tàpies’s works.
There is definitely something profound about these pieces of art: they encourage you to really see. At first the works appear to be splotches of paint on a canvas but any art-lover will know that you need to look beyond first impressions to understand the strong emotive connection of the works.
Seemingly desolate pieces convey a sense of emotional emptiness and encourage a kind of retrospective behaviour within the viewer.
As a result, many of Tàpies’s works are humble yet evocative and are formulated around the study of matter. Substance is the focus of the main works on display and this compels one to look beyond and try to understand the emotions and atmosphere evinced. There is a compelling sense of mystery within Tàpies’s unconventional works.
Furthermore, there is something quite traumatic about Tàpies’s works. The scraping, scarring and scratching of the surfaces of his works is a physical embodiment of the themes of pain, emptiness and division caused by walls (which also alludes to the artist’s name which interestingly translates to mean ‘wall’).
Substance is carefully considered and explored within Tàpies’s works. Basic earthy hues ground the artist’s work but at the same time work together with thick brushstrokes and the 3D nature of mixed media to offer something completely new.
I urge you to look past the seemingly negative brush strokes, dull colours and elusive appearance of these canvases. These are not primitive works. These are thoughtful, reflective creations that encourage you to make your own inferences. All you need to do is truly see.