BRUSSELS “Antoni Tápies” 8 february – 28 march 2020. Almine Rech Gallery.

Almine Rech Brussels is pleased to present Antoni Tàpies’s first solo show with the gallery. Indeed, over half of the works on view have been featured in museum and gallery exhibitions, and most are documented in related publications. This is his first solo exhibition in Belgium since 1985, when the Musée d’Art Moderne, Bruxelles (now Musée Modern Museum) organized a survey. This exhibition marks the co-representation of the Estate of Antoni Tàpies.

This exceptional exhibition thus offers viewers the opportunity to explore firsthand Tàpies’ unconventional use of sgraffito, a technique traditionally associated with plaster walls and ceramics, whereby plaster or slip is scratched, leaving tracks of the color of the dried under-layer. Although his approach to sgraffito is unusual in an art context, it is familiar to everyday activities such as scribbling on the beach, finger painting, incising soft materials, smearing ink or smudging chalk, letting translucent fluids bleed, puncturing surfaces, or veiling with transparent fabrics. In fact, no fewer than five paintings here exhibit sand/mud scribbles, three are awash in varnish splashes, two feature scratched clay, while Ou Blanc hosts a massive plaster egg incised with impenetrable imagery. Every painting exhibits smears, streaks, and/or drips that set its tempo, a pause (much like a film still) in an otherwise ongoing, dynamic process.
Over five decades, Tàpies participated in nine Biennale di Venezia exhibitions (2005, 1993, 1982, 1978, 1977, 1958, 1956, 1954, 1952); winning the Unesco Prize and David Bright Award in 1958 and the Golden Lion for Painting in 1993, no doubt an unbeatable record. In 1998, Tàpies permanently installed his winning installation Rinzen (1992-1993), whose title means “sudden awakening” in Japanese, at MACBA. Not surprisingly, another notion of “transcendental” is “sudden illumination of the soul,” or rinzen. Llit, on view here, likely refers to that installation, which features a massive bed, magically suspended in space. His art has been the subject of nearly 100 museum surveys in scores of countries on five continents.

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Almine Rech Gallery.Abdijstraat 20 Rue de l’Abbaye. 1050 Brussels BE

Image: Antoni Tápies.  Almine Rech Gallery.