One of Spain's most acclaimed contemporary artists, Miquel Barceló is known for his relief-like mixed-media paintings, expressive bronze sculptures and ceramics. An artistic nomad, his fascination with the natural world has inspired richly textured canvases that evoke the earthy materiality of Art Informel, as well as compositions that study the effects of light and the ever-changing colours of the sea. Always experimenting with non-traditional materials such as volcanic ash, food, seaweed, sediments and homemade pigments, his works carry the traces of the fierce energy that animates his creative process.
In the mid 1980, Barceló began eliminating narrative elements from his works, creating an increasingly unreal space punctuated by holes, cracks and transparencies. This process of simplification culminated in 198,, a year in which he travelled across the Sahara and created his white paintings. Relying on cultural and geographical diversity for inspiration, his time in Mali, where he established a studio, was a formative experience. For Barceló, painting is a visceral way of relating himself to the world and, as such, his art connects with the primitive beauty of cave paintings. He expands the technical boundaries of representation, while remaining rooted in the grand tradition of painting, following in the footsteps of Picasso or Goya when representing bullfight scenes or Baroque painters when completing a commission for the Palma de Mallorca Cathedral.
Born in 1957 in Felanitx, Mallorca, Barceló lives and works between Paris and Mallorca. In 1974, he was admitted to Palma de Mallorca's Fine Arts School, before joining the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona. In 1976 he was involved in the happenings and protests of Taller Llunatic, an avant-garde conceptual group. Despite his deep-rooted connection to Spain, he draws inspiration from his time spent in various locations, having lived and worked in Barcelona, Portugal, Palermo, Paris, Geneva, New York, the Himalayas and West Africa. He gained international recognition after his participation in the São Paulo Biennial (1981 ) and documenta in Kassel (1982). In 2009 , he represented Spain at the 3rd Venice Biennale.
His work has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Musée du Louvre, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Museo d'arte della Svizzera italiana Lugano, Irish Museum of Modern Art, CAC Málaga, Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien, Bibliothèque nationale de France, and Musée Picasso.
- “Seiche adulte”, mixed technique on canvas, 2015.
If there is something that can define Barceló, it is his desire to be a painter, which leaves the viewer of his work the difficult task of searching for what this statement means.
Could it be his taste for color? Because of the materials? The love for the line, the drawing? That self-portrait of Miguel drawn with mud-covered fingers in which he is represented with a long nose of Pinocchio comes to mind (to be seen in the exhibition on the second floor). Is not the profession of a painter, and even the very object of painting, a long series of lies?
Isn't the artist an ardent defender of trompe l'oeil? A visual effects maker whose goal is to fool the viewer?
This painting that we contemplate is the underwater life brought to us and captured on a canvas that the painter's art has transformed into a rock wall, with crackle typical of ceramic techniques well known to the artist. The result is an extremely modern and ancient work, a deeply contemporary classic.
It is the world of Barceló, where his passion for the sea is reflected, his love for the rock art of Altamira or Chauvet, even his fondness for ceramics in the pictorial treatment. Barceló uses all his illusionist tricks to capture a lived reality, that of his life in the Mediterranean, our eternal Mediterranean, inseparable from the identity of our island.
- “Feuille sur crâne”, mixed technique on canvas, 2007.
“I have always perceived in Barceló the instinct of the player and a sensitivity for everything that boils beneath appearances. He makes a kind of Pascalian bet, not on God, but on nature. The most recent painting that I have been able to see shows an extraordinarily detailed representation of a human skull, with the shadows of the volumes indicated. I am sure that this recent starting point will lead to a new path and that it will provoke endless comments on all the implications that such an image generates, both in the field of art history and in the field of art. philosophy. As he himself has pointed out in his notebooks, he likes to “play with metaphors”. Dore Ashton, “Miguel Barceló, en camino”, Actes Sud.
- “Acróstico de Cabras I”, printed on both sides, lithography, woodblock printing with grain, screenprinting, pencil, on Japan paper, 1991.
- “Acróstico de Burro III”, printed on both sides, lithography, woodblock printing with grain, screenprinting, pencil, on Japan paper, 1991.
- “Lanzarote 17”, aquatint, 1999.