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No. 8, July 2000
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Antoni Tāpies
The retrospective
Haus der Kunst (Munich) May 26 - August 13, 2000
 
The museum Haus der Kunst, Munich, in collaboration with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, is showing the most comprehensive Antoni Tāpies retrospective yet. Ninety paintings and objects from public and private collections offer an unprecedented view over the Catalan's body of work, from the mid-1940s with his first self-portraits and collages to his recent paintings such as Earth picture (1999) and Complement (1999), which is to find on the catalogue's cover.

Central to Antoni Tāpies' work is the treatment of texture and material, but he refuses the formal analysis of the aesthetic possibilities - although the beauty of his paintings cannot be denied. He concentrates on the search of magic properties and their transformation potential. His art is, among others, influenced by Raimundus Lullus, a universal scholar from the Middle Ages. Tāpies uses the combinatorial analysis of Lullus in a playful way. He not only appreciates the mystic, but also the philosopher, poet and scientist Lullus. Tāpies uses the mystic letters, symbols and even the name "Llull" appears in his works and in their titles. However, the signs' meaning can rarely be identified. They seem to have been introduced for aesthetic reasons only.
 
Among Tāpies' characteristic calligraphic signs are the initials "A" and "T" as well as the cross, which appears in all shapes and forms. The artist considers himself a shaman and alchemist who understands the nature and secrets of materials, who can alter substances and give a meaning to life. Many of his works remind us of votive pictures of the Middle Ages which are supposed to have healing effects.
 
The agnostic and sceptic Tāpies found his distinctive style in 1954 over the exploration of surrealism. He refuses the notion of abstract painting since he does not accept any limitation in art, which, of course, means no return to figurative painting.
 
Tāpies explains the absence of primary colors in his work with a surfeit, a repletion of colors around him and in advertising. He says to suffer from a primary colors allergy. Moreover, he considers that the colors he found and uses express best the mystic he is looking for and that they have a deeper meaning.
 
His works are full of elements of ordinary life, including trash. In this respect, Tāpies is close to the generation of artists who revolted themselves against abstract expressionism. His aesthetic values and means are closely related to existentialism. Among them is the principle of repetition, an everlasting questioning. Objects of ordinary life in his art, such as boxes, a bed or (as on the right) a Desk with straw are the expression of his close relation with Zen-Buddhism. For Tapičs art has a ritual character and has to change awareness, consciousness. Therefore, he constantly repeats a series of symbols, images and objects.
 
Tāpies also deals with impossibility. Repeatedly, he indicated that his art is a kind of game, a trap observers have to realize and accept, in order to let it work. Tāpies often paints crosses or symbols on the objects in his paintings, which allows him to lift their "authenticity", their character of objects. According to the curators, they organized the retrospective in Munich around this central element of impossibility and ambiguity in the work of the Catalan artist Antoni Tāpies. 

Catalogue (in German): Antoni Tāpies - Die Retrospektive. Haus der Kunst, Munich, in collaboration with Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid. Aldeasa, Madrid. With essays by Peter Bürger, Alexander G. Düttman, Antoni Tāpies, John C. Welchman and a preface by Manuel J. Borja-Villel. 324 p.
 


Antoni Tāpies, Manuel J. Borja-Villel, John C. Welchman, Alexander G. Duttman: Tāpies. Hardcover, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and Aldeasa, 2001, 352 p. ISBN: 8480039655. Get it from Amazon.com.
 

Antoni Tapies, Anna Agusti (Editor): Tāpies: obra completa, volumen 5, 1982-1985. Hardcover, Rizzoli International Publications, 1999, 504 p. ISBN: 8488786417. Get it from Amazon.com.
 

Andreas Franzke: Antoni Tāpies, Prestel, 1992. Get it from Amazon.de.


Barbara Catoir: Gespräche mit Antoni Tāpies, Prestel, 1996. In German, get it from Amazon.de.
 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 8, July 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.