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Miquel Barcelo

 (born 1957)
Miquel Barcelo is active/lives in Spain, France.  Miquel Barcelo is known for modernist-leaning landscapes, ceramics.

Miquel Barcelo

Biography from the Archives of askART

After having studied at the Arts and Crafts School of Palma for two years, Miquel Barcelo enrolled at the Fine Arts School of Barcelona in 1974.  A year later he returned to Mallorca to participate in the happenings and actions of protest of the group "Taller Lunatic", a conceptual avantgarde group. All of a sudden set free by the changed political circumstances, they felt an impulse to reexperience all they had gleaned from demonstrations of vanguardism both in European capitals and the United States.  He also took part in the creation of their artist periodical Neon de Suro (21 issues from 1957-1982), another reaction to the common belief in the 1970s, that painting was dead.

A year after his return to Majorca he had his first one-man show at the Palma Museum.  Initially the Avant-garde*, Art Brut* and American Abstract Expressionism* (e.g. Pollock had a big impact on him) influenced Barceló's work; on the other hand he was always particularly interested in the Baroque* paintings of Diego Velazquez, Tintoretto, and Rembrandt.   Dubuffet, who saw himself as a true anarchist, inspired Barceló in adopting an experimental attitude.  Soon he found his own way of expression by simplifying and reducing different "-isms" of the last decades and reformulating themes and technical challenges, but he has never abandoned the sanctified rules of the conventional painting such as the "chiaroscuro" for example.  He believes strongly in his continuation of a grand tradition. 

Throughout the 1980ies, he travelled extensively across Europe, the United States and West Africa - always returning to Paris which became a second home and where he set up a second studio.  Extremely fascinated by Mali, a third studio was installed in Segou.  The time Barceló spent in different countries, his nomadism or peripatetic habits essentially influenced and inspired his work, most strongly the impressions of West Africa: the power of its light, the scorching sun, the rocky landscape, the sea and rivers - visual experiences that may have reminded him of his native Majorca.

Within the impressions and influences of various cultures and multifaceted landscapes, his treatment of some of the great themes of classical painting, like landscape, still life, the artist's studio or the portrait, and technical challenges, like perspective, colour and the treatment of light and the composition, is recurrent. 

His painting from memory includes autobiographical quotations in a boundless exploration of new forms of expression, in which he extensively experiments with a wide range of materials, textures, light, colour and pictorial procedures, with the mutation of the elements, liquefaction of objects and their transitoriness by fading away, metamorphisis and death.  He therefore experiments with anorganic as well as with organic material or elements. Alongside the exploration of new motifs, a always recurring motif - suggesting that Majorca is always with him - is the sea which he approached from changing perspectives.  His work on paper, paintings, modelled work, sculptures and ceramics seem to be interconnected in a way that transcends time and space, even tough they are always linked to certain spatial and temporal coordinates. An unconscious link between his preoccupations, fantasies and disclosures give his art a narrative and aesthetical unity and coherence.

His participation at the "Documenta 7", Kassel, Germany, in 1982 gained him international recognition.  From the mid eighties on, Barceló's work (paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics) has been subject of numerous shows worldwide in renowned galleries (GalerieBruno Bischofberger, Leo Castelli) important museums and at other cultural sites.

In 2004 Barceló's watercolours, illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy were shown at the Louvre Museum in Paris.  Thus, he became the youngest artist ever shown in this museum.  A present activity is an important project for the Majorca Cathedral's Chapel San Pedro, a homage to his native homeland.  He is using ceramics not as objects (like the series of ritual icons which he did in 1998 for the church Sant Eulalia, Church of the Catalans, in Palermo, Sicily) but for the formation of a large scale crafted mural. Baceló covered the entire chapel with terracotta*, creating a kind of second skin and decorated it with images related to the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St. John, the miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish, a theme chosen because the chapel is dedicated to the holy sacrament of the Last Supper.  Beyond that, Barceló's creativity was also in demand for other opportunities; in 1990 he designed costumes and the stage for Manuel De Falla's opera Tréteaux de Maître Pierre at the Opéra Comique in Paris and at the Festival of Avignon 2006 he was part of a performance with choreographer Joseph Nadj.

On November 18, 2008 the Spanish government officially presented Miquel Barceló's latest immense work of art in the UN's Palace of Nations in Geneva.  The work of art is a massive sculptural installation* located on the domed ceiling of the building's newly created Chamber XX of Human rights and Alliance of Civilizations.  The work consists of 1500 m2 of multi-coloured stalactite forms for which the artist uses 100 tons of paint, that appear to be dripping from the ceiling.  The chamber was inaugurated by the King and Queen of Spain, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey and the Swiss president Pascal Couchepin.


*For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following was written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Miquel Barcelo is a boyish Spanish painter from Majorca who paints large-scale works with thick, paint-encrusted surfaces with powerful images of nature often seen from an elevated point of view. His seemingly abstract paintings become allegorical as animal carcasses and splitting fruits emerge.  Some viewers translate the meanings of the somewhat grotesque works to symbolize the constant presence of death rather than of harvest.   

Barcelo claimed that being successful has driven him to Paris. He also spent time in New York City.  His vaguely punk look, his showman style, his "savage" art - born of rock, Baroque, poster art. comics, and a dollop of New York School abstraction - suit the current mood.  He does what he does well because he is sure-footed in what he means to convey and he has a great sense of color.   

Sources include:   

Nancy Malloy in Artnews, January 1993   
Art in Post-Franco Spain by Barbara Probst Solomon in ARTnews, October 1987

Biography from
2005 Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich (solo)
2005 Barceló - Monterrey, Mexico, MARCO (Museo Arte Contemporana) (solo)
2005 C&M Arts, New York (solo)
2004 La Divine Comédie - Miquel Barceló (dessins de) - Musée du Louvre, Paris (solo)
2004 Barceló - Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (solo)
2004 Barceló (Arte Español para el Exterior): Pinacoteca de Sao Paulo, Argentina (solo)
2003 Miquel Barceló a les Illes Balears: Plaça de la Constitució, Formentera, Museu d'Art Contemporani d'Eivissa, Ibiza, Museu de Menorca, Maó, La Llotja, Palma, Mallorca (solo)
2002 'Miquel Barceló: Mapamundi', Fondation Maeght, France (cat.)
2002 Miquel Barceló en Silos, Centro Permanente de Exposiciones del Monasterio Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos (solo)
2002 Paolo Curti, Milano (solo)
2002 L'Atelier di Miquel Barceló, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Modernai, Roma (Catalogue, solo)
2001 L'ours blessé', Galerie Jablonka, Cologne, Germany (cat.)
2001 , New Paintings and Ceramics', Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, UK (cat.)
2001 'La Cuina de Miquel Barceló', Arta (cat.)
2001 Feria International of Muestras de Asturias, Spain (cat.)
2000 Obra sobre papel 1979 - 1999', Museo de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Museo de Arte Visuales, Montevideo, Argentina; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Isreal (cat.)
2000 'Ceramics', Museo de Ceràmica, Barcelona, Spain
2000 Musée des Arts Decorativs, Palais Louvre, Paris, France
2000 Paintings, Grant Selwyn Fine Art, New York, USA
2000 Ceramics, Grant Selwyn Fine Art, New York, USA
1999 Des citrons coupés, Museo de Bellas Artes, Oviedo
1999 'Miquel Barceló, Ceràmics', Fondación Juan March, Palma, Spain (cat.); travelling exhibition
1999 'Miquel Barcelò, Obra sobre papel 1979 - 1999', Reina Sofía, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte, Madrid, Spain (cat.); travelling exhibition
1998 Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, UK (cat.)
1998 'Miquel Barceló 1987 - 1997', Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain (MACBA), Barcelona (Book)
1998 'Miquel Barceló: Il Christo della Vucciria', Chiesa Santa Eulalia dei Catalani, Palermo, Italy (cat.)
1998 Centro Permanente de Exposiciones del Monasterio Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos, Spain
1997 Château de Chenonceau, Chenonceaux, France
1997 Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires (cat.)
1997 'Miquel Barceló, Obra 1996 - 1997', Galería Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid, Spain (cat.)
1997 'Miquel Barceló - Stillevens', PMMK, Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium (cat.)
1996 'Miquel Barceló', Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (cat.)
1996 'Miquel Barceló: Impressions d'Afrique 1988-1995', Galerie d'Art Graphique du Musée National d'Art Moderne du Centre National d'Art et Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (cat.)
1996 'Miquel Barceló-Estampes', Galerie Lucie Weill-Seligmann, Paris, France
1996 'Miquel Barceló - Malerier - Skulpterer', Galleri Haaken, Oslo, Norway (cat.)
1995 'Miquel Barceló - Sculptures and paintings', Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, USA
1995 'Miquel Barceló - Portraits', Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland
1994 'Miquel Barceló, Pinturas y Esculturas 1993', Galería Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid, Spain (cat.)
1994 'Miquel Barceló, Portraits', Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland
1994 'Miquel Barceló - 1984-1994', Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK; Centre del Carmen, Valencia, Spain (cat.)
1994 'Miquel Barceló. Recent paintings & sculptures', Kyoko Chirathivat Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand (cat.)
1993 'Miquel Barceló, New Works', Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland
1993 ' Desenhos - Pinturas - Esculturas', Galeria Nasoni, Porto, Galeria Nasoni, Oporto (cat.)
1993 Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporánea, Trento, Italy (cat.)
1993 'Tekeningen van Mali', Kunsthall Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (Fold brochure)
1992 'Toros', Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland (cat.)
1992 Musée d'Art Contemporain de Nîmes, France (cat.)
1991 'Miquel Barceló - Obra 1989', Galería Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid, Spain (cat.)
1991 Waddington Galleries, London, UK (cat.)

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About  Miquel Barcelo

Born:  1957 - Felantix, Mallorca, Spain
Known for:  modernist-leaning landscapes, ceramics