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   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.


Tuesday, February 07, 2012
  antoni tàpies

Antoni Tàpies was on my mind all day in the studio and my work was more spare, more bold than usual because of that. His death yesterday, and recaps of his life and work have been widely reported, and I feel no need to write an informative or objective post about him. But I am moved to write a more personal response--I'm one of countless artists who have considered Tàpies among my strongest influences. When I first saw his work in 2001, it came at the turning point of my own paintings toward abstraction, and pointed the way to a form of expression that is both deeply emotional and formally strong.

Before my visit that year to Barcelona--his home city--I only knew his name and a few reproductions in books, but that was enough to compel me to visit the Fundació Antoni Tàpies. The idea of a museum devoted to a living artist was amazing enough (I couldn't think of a single example in the US) but even the little I knew of Tàpies left me wanting to see the work in person.

The main gallery was completely hung with his work (on a subsequent visit in 2008, other artist's work occupied that space) and I was torn between rushing through to take it all in at once and standing in front of each painting, appreciating it as a total experience. The gritty textures, subtle earth colors and monumentality of scale combined to speak directly to my emotions, while the unusual materials, including sand and foam, and the complex, subtle compositions intrigued me.

Leaving the museum, I considered the city in a new way--as the context of his work. The crumbling old walls, graffiti and surreal Gaudi architecture were obvious influences. Later at the Museu d'Art Contemporani I moved to tears by his huge pale colored--almost white--painting in one of the lower galleries (I've been trying to find its title or image online with no luck) which mystified me with its power.

Since then. I've learned more about the man, his political stance against the Spanish dictator Franco, his strong Catalan identity, his philosophical views of the every day materials and subject matter he used, the influence of Eastern spirituality on his life and work. All fascinating. But his work stands on its own, apart from anything that can be said or written about him (and there is plenty of that in the past two days.)

To me it feels as old as rocks and dirt, and as fresh as a young child's drawing. His appreciation of the ordinary is expressed through intriguing inventiveness with commonplace materials and images. Freedom and spontaneity, and the quirkiness of mind and memory...but always the sense of being grounded in the earth and in human history. Often profound stillness, and always mystery.
 
Comments:
Great description of his work - and of its influence on your own! Thanks for posting.
 
Thanks Rebecca for this very nice post! Tapies has touched so many artists around the world! Truly remarkable.
 
Thanks Rebecca for putting into words what I could not. Though I am not an abstract artist, I totally agree with you about the power of Tapies' work and seeing it in person.
 
thank you for the comments...this post practically wrote itself. I guess due to the strong feeling I have for his work.
 
What a beautiful and heartfelt tribute, Rebecca.
 
Gorgeous work! Thank you so much for introducing me to this artist! And your words perfectly describe it.
 
This commentary made me feel emotional. It conveys the fact that it was written from the heart and I could actually feel my response to being with the work. Thank you. Jen
 
thanks for these comments, it is good to know I struck a chord with other artists who admire Tapies...
 
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