Ben Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong is honoured to present Miquel Barceló: Courant Central, a comprehensive exhibition of recent paintings and sculpture by renowned Spanish artist Miquel Barceló. This will be the second solo exhibition of Barceló’s work at the Hong Kong gallery and will coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong. The exhibition will include a radically new series of stark white canvases, a series of haunting paintings inspired by primitive cave drawings, and a trove of unique ceramic sculptures. The artist will be in Hong Kong for the opening of the exhibition.
Miquel Barceló has always worked within the Spanish idiom, his works deeply rooted to his native country and more specifically to his lifelong home in Mallorca, Spain. The terrain of Mallorca—the sea, the shoreline, marine life, the red earth, the scorching sun and cool breeze—is evidenced in all his works. Barceló also finds inspiration in the cultural and architectural traditions of Spain; for example, he is fascinated by the concentric formal qualities as well as the sociological implications of the bullring. Although Barceló has remained fiercely loyal to
his homeland, he has spent time in Mali, Africa, where he has found a similar affinity to the organic qualities of the land, and also maintains a studio in Paris.
The exhibition includes a group of striking, highly-impastoed, pristinely white canvases that are at once coolly minimalist and elaborately tactile. The artist has layered mixed media, creating stratum, drips, spills, mounds and concavities on his canvases that are highly evocative. The simple titles of the paintings bear reference, both literally and metaphorically, to their origin. Courant Central (2013) alludes to a current that runs between Mallorca and an uninhabited island less than a kilometer away. While the journey across looks attainable, many get caught in this powerful central current that pulls out to sea; Barceló, however, has swum across successfully. Place de Taureaux (2013), in its layered and rough surface of undulating spheres, alludes to the traces of vigor, victory, submission and death left behind on the grounds of the bullring after a fight has taken place. Barceló likens the tension of the rings in this painting to the centrifugal and centripetal forces that dictate his life. Brise Légère du Nord (2013), with its broad inverted arcs pulling down along the canvas, suggests a light breeze blowing on the water creating an endless and meditative pattern of waves, a visual that is part of the artist’s daily existence.
There are four large-scale paintings in the exhibition, built up with coarse layers of aqua blue, black, ochre and yellow, inspired by Barceló’s visit to the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France. This cave, rediscovered in 1994 and considered one of the most important archeological finds in history, holds hundreds of Paleolithic cave paintings, mainly of animals, that have been remarkably well-preserved. Barceló’s canvases teem with ethereal renderings of horse heads, which collectively create an organic, nearly abstract landscape.
Complementing the paintings in the exhibition are a group of unique ceramic works, all reaped from the rich, fertile earth of Barceló’s homeland, Mallorca. With their pits, slashes, inclusions and jagged edges, the ceramic pots celebrate the raw and spontaneous nature of the artist’s working method. Barceló has whimsically anthropomorphized many of the pieces, such as Moi et Moi (2011), adding eyes and suggestions of facial features through paint or recesses in the ceramic.
Miquel Barceló was born in 1957 in Mallorca. He studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Palma de Mallorca and the Fine Arts Academy in Barcelona. In 1982, Barceló achieved international acclaim for his participation in Documenta VII in Kassel, Germany. In 2004, Barceló’s watercolours illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy were shown at the Museé du Louvre, Paris, making him the youngest artist ever shown at the museum. Barceló represented Spain at the Venice Biennale in 2009. He has exhibited at such prestigious institutions as Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico; and the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, and his works are included in numerous private and public collections throughout the world.