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Miquel Barceló (B. 1957)
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Miquel Barceló (B. 1957)

L'eau potable

Miquel Barceló (B. 1957)
L'eau potable
signed, titled and dated 'Barceló, L'eau potable, 11.90'
oil and resin on canvas
112¼ x 90½in. (285 x 230cm.)
Painted in 1990.
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

In 1990, on another quest for an experience of the extreme, Barceló visited the Swiss Alps and made a series of landscapes with glaciers as their theme. "For a little while I was in the Alps, painting the life of the glaciers. As a visual image these are very close to my paintings and to the African dunes, even though they are complete opposites; one is extreme cold, the other extreme heat. They have this memory of time that I've always liked: it unites millions of years to now. In the tongue of the glacier someone had been marking its movement, each year, for the last hundred years... I found the year of my birth, 1957. I advanced some 200 metres and in them ran the space of my life. Inside the ice was my future life, to my death, probably behind the mountain. I began to paint with this idea, mixing it with that of Africa: enormous slow-moving masses, the extremes of cold and hot, repositories of time and memory." (M. Barceló, in an interview with M. Fernandez-Cid in: 'Dia 16 de Baleares', Palma, February 18 1990.)

In these monumental canvasses, the previously frequent and explicit autobiographical and cultural references in Barceló's paintings are replaced by huge expanses of landmass: off-white, desolate and devoid of anecdote. In 1996, he told El Pais: "My paintings had become white, not by not putting anything on them, but by erasing everything. The white was not due to absence, but came came from avoiding success...".

But these works are far from pure. They are full of energy and narrative, serving as panoramas of an increasingly reflective but still dynamic spirit. "The glaciers... were painted on the floor on canvas without a stretcher. I poured large quantities of paint onto them, and as it concentrated in certain places, it gave shape to the landscape making the rivers and lakes that can be seen. So these landscapes are parallel to the phenomenology of paint, with various strata."

Barceló is an artist less concerned with techniques, materials or genre, than that, through his painting, he can discover the new in the old and the old in what is new: "That's good... white holes, nothingness... decapitated heads, branches, spaces under the feet of statues, under the legs of chairs. Under the stones, ants, spiders, scorpions. It's not a lot, but what's there to do otherwise? I am not going to make abstract art with triangles and squares, am I? I am not going to make sociology either or little jokes on the future of Western Art. Nor cynical exercises with one hand on the telephone and the other on Art Forum. No way! It just doesn't interest me... Far from the herd, I paint. Big Western Art in perpetual decadence for the last thousand years.' (M. Barceló, 1988).

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