'The mystical consciousness - almost undefinable - seems fundamental for an artist. It is like a "suffering" of reality, a state of constant hyper-sensitivity to everything that surrounds us, good and bad, light and darkness. It is like a voyage to the center of the universe which furnishes the perspective necessary for placing all things of life in their real dimension' (A. Tàpies, 'I am a Catalan', 1971, in Stiles and Selz Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 1996, p. 56).
Executed in 1995, Implícit-explícit is a monumental painting whose material surface and extraordinary physical presence recall the finest works of Antoni Tàpies' early career. Upon its tactile, near-sculptural surface, two thick crosses emerge, their ends carved in large gestures with oil paint building up on their borders, providing the work with a three-dimensional relief-like presence. Incised whilst still wet with the words 'implicit' and 'explicit', the work exemplifies Tàpies' interest in the traces left by physical objects: the "matter" of the artwork becomes the work's subject, upon which imprints, marks and ciphers are inscribed. 'Like a researcher in his laboratory,' Tàpies observed, 'I am the first spectator of the suggestions drawn from the materials. I unleash their expressive possibilities, even if I do not have a very clear idea of what I am going to do. As I go along with my work I formulate my thought, and from this struggle between what I want and the reality of the material - from this tension - is born an equilibrium' (A. Tàpies, quoted in 'I am a Catalan', 1971, reproduced in K. Stiles and P. Selz, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, Berkeley 1996, p. 55).
For Tàpies, one of the pioneers of Art Informel, the material embodies a vital and indeed spiritual physicality. As he has explained, 'I was obsessed with materiality... the pastiness of phenomena which I interpreted using thick material, a mixture of oil paint and whiting, like a kind of inner raw material that reveals the "noumenal" reality which I did not see as an ideal or supernatural world apart but rather as the single total and genuine reality of which everything is composed' (A. Tàpies, Memária Personal, quoted in M.J. Borja-Villel, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, 1990, p. 32). The sculptural matter of the painting is given a mysterious symbolic significance by the juxtaposition of the crosses and the contrasting words carved in them. The cross is one of Tàpies most recognized signs, an open symbol that speaks of both negation and creation. The 'X' also reveals Tàpies' interest in graffiti and the marks that accumulated on the walls of his home city of Barcelona. At the same time, the cross carries potent overtones of religion, death, and resurrection. This theme was central to Tàpies, an artist working at odds with the dictatorship ruling Spain during the Civil War, whose involvement with Spanish and Catalan politics formed an important context for his practice.