Helly Nahmad Gallery is pleased to present Tàpies 2000, an online exhibition featuring a group of paintings produced at the turn of the 21st century by Antoni Tàpies, a pioneer of Art Informel and precursor to Arte Povera. Tàpies was one of the first to incorporate exogenous materials such as sand, earth and found objects into his paintings. Tàpies 2000 explores this groundbreaking use of the canvas as an open field, where continuations of a wall, street, mountain, house or inner retreat drift on, and where materials, symbols and gestures create a universal and timeless language, reinforcing Tàpies’s mesmerizing aesthetic, spiritual approach and revolutionary investigations, forever blurring the line between sculpture and painting.
Tàpies’s artistic vision was deeply impacted by his early life, where he spent most of time inside staring at walls due to chronic illness. This monotony was juxtaposed with Tapies witnessing the devastation of Spain’s civil war, and, along with his prophetic name--‘Tapies’ means wall in Catalan-- his vision became tinted by an obscure language of signs and anonymous treatment of the body, emerging in paintings conceived of as “walls”, like records of the shared history of a humanity deprived of meaning, bearing the marks of fear, desire, vandalizations and revendications of social and political unrest. “If I were to tell the story of how I became aware of the evocative power of wall imagery, I would have to go quite far back. These are memories from adolescence and early youth I spent shut in behind the walls within which I lived out the wars. All the dramas the adults were living through and all the cruel fantasies of an age - that, amid so many catastrophes, seemed to drift according to its own impulses - were traced and inscribed around me. All the walls of a city, which, in the family tradition, was so much my own, bore witness to the horrors and the inhuman reversals that were inflicted on our people.” (Antoni Tàpies, Communication on the walls, 1976.)
The end of Tàpies’s career was marked by a desire to return to the body, revisit, seize and transcend his groundbreaking “walls” of the 1950s and 1960s, a mode of cathartic meditation, reverberating beyond Postwar existentialism while sustaining mystery and providing a sense of peace and harmony afforded by the symbolic use of dust derived from zen culture. This group of contemporary works in Tàpies 2000 reflect their own deep memory of origin, formed and transformed, performing an infinite series of improvisational metamorphoses, accumulating materials, and objects from the everyday, like socks, sand and earth, using expressive blends of impasto and gestural brush strokes. The pictorial surface becomes a scene where fragments of the abstracted body unfold, the presence of hands and orifices allude, in an elemental form, to the miracle of being and to sexuality as pure energy. The body becomes a landscape, an external continuation of accumulated memories and matter from the collective fusing with the personal and the cosmic.