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Miquel (1957) Barceló (b. 1957)



February 10, 2005
London, United Kingdom

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signed, titled and dated septembre 1983 on the reverse

mixed media on canvas


209 by 229cm.

82 1/4 by 90 1/8 in.


B. 1957


Madrid, Centro Cultural de la Ciudad de Madrid, En el Centro, 1984, p. 27, illustrated in colour


Galeria Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1984


Following his dramatic presentation at Documenta in 1982, Barceló travelled extensively visiting Naples, Pompeii, Rome and Paris, all the time expanding his visual horizons and experimenting with different materials. Porto Colom shows the artist amalgamating the wealth of these visits into a subject rooted in his native Majorca, the coastal town of Porto Colom. Executed in 1983, the present work coincided with the growth of widespread recognition of Barceló's paintings, with many critics pinpointing him within the context of the Spanish artistic tradition as heir to Miró's poetics of humility and Tàpies' abstract materiality.

The brilliant colouring and energetic application of paint in the present work also reflect a wide variety of non-Spanish influences, from the vivid light of Tintoretto to the expression of Jackson Pollock. Porto Colom is one of Barceló's most important early paintings in which his obsession with the traditional genre of still life, and its allegorical and metaphorical possibilities, are rendered with the bold, muscular materiality of his mature work. The distinctive raised perspective dramatically pushes the action up to the front of the canvas taking the viewer deep into the picture plane and presenting us with a life summary of elements most poignant to him. The expanse of food and drink plays with the traditional genre of still life painting, here violently interrupted by the half-crouching, half-leaping figure that bursts onto the table into our space. Kissed with a luminous yellow light that emanates from the far door at the top of the picture, the naked animalistic figure is linked with the menacing dog that lurks here. The material brutality of the painting's execution is a further metaphor for the organic confluence of matter, resulting in an intensity of expression which was to become so characteristic of the artist's work.

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Contemporary Art, Part 1

February 10, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

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