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Ramon Herreros (1947)

The painting process is demystified by the modest artist, who exhibits clarity in his work. The paintings, in terms of style, may shift between the figurative and the abstract realms. During the 1980s, the artist produced grand-scale abstractions, subsequently incorporating female nudes. In recent times, trees and architectural structures have been introduced by the artist, although the subject matter has always been significantly decontextualized through simplification. Herreros’ forms are intricate and distorted in various manners, resulting in harmonious juxtapositions such as supple versus edgy, recognizable versus unfamiliar, and so on. Just as the objects in his paintings undergo alienation, the figures themselves undergo transformation. They are flattened, showcasing vacant expressions and existing in a perpetual state of contemplation. The artwork exudes tranquility, bestowing upon it a metaphysical essence and a timeless allure.

www.ftn-books.com has the Maeght publication available

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Ignasi Sumoy (1953)

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We are the same age and in all these years of collecting I had never heard of Ignasi Sumoy, an artist born in Barcelona, but beside Spain and the Netherlands hardly known in the rest of Europe, It is because I acquired the “Galerie de la TOUR” catalogue ( available at http://www.ftn-books.com) /Groningen(1989), that I now know Sumoy and his works. Leafing through the book i noticed elements from Ethnic art, Basquiat and the dutch painter Lucassen combined into a personal painting “language”.

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I like these kinds of paintings with realistic and symbolic elements composed in an abstract setting. here is the article I found on the Sumoy site which explains more on this artist:

IGNASI SUMOY BOLUFER (Barcelona, 1953)

Ignasi Sumoy’s painting is, paradoxically, in the desert. It is a dessert that can be turned into a likely metaphor as an implicit reference to all the progressive shifts -at times geometric- that many of the visuals arts have been going throughout in the last few years: a stage empty in origin like the desert in which under controversial but more or less homogeneous appearances there lies concealed the changing outline of the dunes. Not only do the sand-hills move, covering large distances because of their specific weight, they take on their own corporality and dimensions, non-transferable, subtly recognizable and subject at times to sudden change both in direction and composition, weight and mass. So the shift and well-nigh solid individuality of the dunes enable us to speak of some of the essences of the artist’s work. But Ignasi Sumoy’s painting, on the contrary, takes its point of departure from this kind of metaphorical recurrence of the idea of the dune, arid and almost prosaic, to participate immediately in its complete geographical opposite, in its opposition of ideal behaviour: life in and of the city, always understood from the particular viewpoint of one who seeks to locate it as an entity midway between apocalyptic-futurist and a re-creation deriving from the experiences of life and aesthetics of the past, a point in time where this Futurist aspiration occurred, together with other reminiscences of Primitivism still close in time and, even more, in the segment of space.

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Formally, this is one of the points of departure of his work. Without abrupt breaks, the connection between the various stages of his work has been maintained intact -and completely traceable- during the course of recent years: where formerly there existed a primitive, rather schematized being, without any clearly defined environment, urban, metropolitan man now lives. Unlike the universal prototype established by Musil, he is endowed with attributes that are not only specifically human, they serve to identify him, and even more, he identifies himself through them, thereby constructing a peculiar life-from in a peculiar kind of city locales somewhere between the ideal and the throw-away, formed by beings that mimic the physical elements of their environment so well that it finally takes them over, and in so doing becomes them themselves, assuming all the risks but also all their virtues, and hovering thus between outright apologetic qualities and the most violently critical allusions, maintaining a specific space, a private no-man’s-land where the action unfolds and where the most immediate and evident narrative events of his painting take place.

There is a kind of split suggested by the overall theory of his work that relates as much to the hypothetical apology-refusal already mentioned as to the fact that the characters take one another voice, that is, the recourse to the other and the double so strongly personified here, as though it were some terrifying Bernhardian voice imitator. This basically constitutes one of the founding elements the artist likes to play with, out of which he can build a new aesthetic space and, why not?, a new living space, made up of a personal symbology charred with unique systems and references. Out of reinterpretations, Ignasi Sumoy ends up creating a new, self-contained building, inside which the elements that live there and those that slip in from the world of meaning outside, function according to their own laws. In the realm of idiolect, the slight degree of referentiality matters little, nor what side the scale of referentiality tilts, whether towards resemblance or something real. So the problems of illusion are equally unimportant there too.

In an odd kind of pensée du dehors, Ignasi Sumoy’s painting includes an active and always strange theory that begins with inclusion and ends with rejection, working through a considerable process of selection and refinement both formal and conceptual in nature. In a process not so much of mimicry as ingestion and consumption, anything that resides outside of man ends up assimilated inside, participating in what we could call his natural conditions, becoming one more part of his anthropomorphic definitions to which it is added and which it modifies to a greater or less extent. The use of metasigns and the written language -of the word, in short- has the effect of intensifying the characteristics of reflection: What more human, therefore, than the possibility of voice in the form of articulate speech? And what more civilized than recourse to written cries? So then, his titles become external words and elements equally derived from outside; not simple denominating devices, they frequently coincide, having already been quickly and violently digested. Also, having recourse to verbal/written language allows parallels to be set up between the textual unfolding occurring in the pictures and a kind of iconographical unfolding, formal in the repertoire, that servers to distribute the leading roles. But they are always the same characters, the same characters, the same doubles, treated alike and referring of similar questions.

The building are bodies; spirals, bodies too. Triangles are heads, the gears mouths, tracks are feet, and forks, the sexual organs. But this is not the man-machine, as Kraftwerk sang; rather, we are confronted with the same process that schematizes thought and action. Nor is it a clumsy or puerile criticism of the general dehumanization or advanced industrialization that depersonalizes and homogenizes humans and objects. That would be too immediate. It may be a search for Utopia, not as a liberation, unattainable because so strongly desired, but as future, a kind of private S.F. that invites us to speculate on this present, however subjective.

sumoy

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Dora Dolz (1941-2008)

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Spanish born in Barcelona , but living and working practically all of her professional artist life in the Netherlands. Dolz has acquired some fame as an artist who mixes abstraction and realism in colorful paintings and objects, but for me personally i am not such a fan of her works until i recently i acquired a ceramics publication on Dolz in which her ceramics are depicted and ….where her paintings are far too much for me, her ceramics are great objects . The colors much more subdued and classic. The forms and shapes are inspired by and borrowed from classic masterpieces. Greec and Roman shapes are there and even some works remind me of Brancusi.

This is the kind of work in which she excels. The ceramics publication is now available at http://www.ftn-books.com

dolz ceramics

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L wig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969)qΩ“Ω~ |’| §

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When i think about Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, three of his designs i remember instantly. The first …a chair by Mies van der Rohe, One i always wanted to own and when i finally had one i did not think it was comfortable enough so i sold it. The chair… a Barcelona chair.

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The one he designed for the Barcelona Pavillion. It was designed for the World exhibition from 1929 and after the exhibition it was demolished, but a group of spanish architects recognized its importance and had it rebuild in the Eighties from last century. I finally had a chance to see it for myself when i visited Barcelona for the first time around 2005. We walked over there since it is only a 10 minutes walk from the Fundacio Joan Miro.

The last one is the Seagram building which is one of the skyscrapers i admired when i first visited New York together with my father. A building i remembered well and of which i recognized style elements when i visited the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin some 30 years later. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is a force in design and has made his mark on many of last centuries greatest designs. Some of his classic publications are availabel at www.ftn-books.com

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Antonio Saura (1930-1998)

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When you mix Jackson Pollock with Jean Dubuffet with a topping of a little bit Picasso you get Antonio Saura. Abstraction at his best, because within the composition one always can recognize something realistic. A face , a body , some houses they are all there if you find the rest to study these great paintings. This is not simple, easy art, but it needs to be savored in a slow way. Because the fist impression is chaos, one tends to walk away from it, but just give it a minute or two and the paintings opens up to you.

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La grande foule, 1963, oil on canvas, 220 x 515 cm

It is a pity that there are so few of these fascinating Saura paintings in the Netherlands, but once you have a chance to visit the modern art museums in Spain they are easy to spot and to enjoy. www.ftn-books.com is fortunate to have a nice selection of books on Saura including the Stedelijk Museum catalogue by Wim Crouwel.

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Antoni Tapies (1923-2012)

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It must have been some 12 years ago that i first visited Barcelona and found myself amazed and surprised by this city full of Gaudi and other modernista marvels, but the best find for me was the discovery and first visit of the Fundacio Antoni Tapies.

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The building itself is already worth visiting and the inside is even more spectacular. An old facade houses a very modern museum inside which houses the works donated by Antoni and Theresa Tapies. I loved its collection and it proved to me that Tapies his art is timeless, very spanish and cosmopolitan at the same time. Tapies is possibly , next to Picasso and Dali , the most important spanish name in Modern Art. He often uses large canvasses and on them paints with “earth” colors impressive abstract compositions and uses  matter in them.

In these matter paintings , the materials used are no longer simple media used to express an idea; they are the idea itself. That process produces a complete identification between material and form, between concept and language. Those works become opaque surfaces, walls on which the artist writes his graffiti and attaches the forms of objects or people. His identification with the work through his surname (in Catalan Tàpies means “walls”) expresses a more profound desire to break with Western dualism and blend with the material in a continuous formlessness.
Over the post-war years there was a general interest among artists on both sides of the Atlantic in material. Awareness of the atomic bomb and the new scientific discoveries aroused a strong curiosity in science, the new ideas about space-time and substance, while inventions such as the electronic microscope provided a new view of nature.
At the same time, Tàpies had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy, because of its emphasis on material, the identity between man and nature and its denial of the dualism of our society.

There are some excellent Tapies publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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Barcelona and Antonio Gaudi

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In the next 2 weeks many people will visit the city of Barcelona. 2 instant tips…first if you like cigars, go to Gimeno on the Ramblas, secondly beware of pickpockets. They operate in groups in the crowded streets like the Ramblas but also in the Subway. They group around you, press against your body without no reason and somebody within the group of pickpockets, steals your wallet. But that said, this blog is not about the negatives of Barcelona, but the great places you can visit. 2 absolute musts are the Fundacio Antoni Tapies and the Fundacio Joan Miro. These are two of the smaller sized museum in Barcelona. Both you can visit within a visit  of 1,5 hours and then you have seen the best Museums in Barcelona ( my opinion) and most importantly on the same location you can see the magnificent Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion.

But Barcelona is much much more and one of the highlights you will encounter every time you turn a corner in the city center is the great architecture. Of course there is Gaudi , but also Jujol. Musts are the casa Mila,the Park Güell and the ver going on project of the Sagrada Familia and by Jujol there is his famous Centre Jujol Can Negere.

If you want to prepare your visit there are some nice publications at www.ftn-books.com