J O S E P M A R I A A V I L É S
"Landau Contemporary is honoured to present this outstanding group of paintings that combine classical form and a sophisticated palette with a unique romanticism so rarely discerned in today's art world."
- Robert Landau
Landau Contemporary is proud to present an online exhibition of works by Spanish contemporary artist, Josep Maria Avilés.
With the eye of an architect to visualize complex spaces and the lyricism of a poet to give it formal expression, Avilés creates haunting surfaces using history as a condenser for memory.
To understand the works of Josep Maria Avilés, we must acknowledge his roots. Born in Barcelona in 1942, he began his studies in 1956 at the prestigious Conservatorio de Artes Suntuarias Massana where he later served as Professor of Enameling and Drawing from 1970 to 1994. He completed his master’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona in 1974 while still teaching.
"A collection of sketches from when I was a student at the Massana school until today as a teacher at the school of "LLotja de Barcelona"...I continue to make sketches."
- Josep Maria Avilés, 2011
With fluid control of line, colour and texture, Aviles attempts to create a pictorial field that harmonizes disparate elements, both in structure, technique and inspiration. Using nostalgia as his foundation, Avilés creates a serene atmosphere in his canvases, a surface where both the classical and contemporary merge, where vertical and horizontal elements combine to form a cruciform-like underlying structure, and where colour, form and material are in constant dialogue with each other.
Avilés large-scale works further betray the influence of the Russian Constructivists, who favoured the industrial assemblage of materials in their works, and the truth and functionality that they represented. Similarly, Avilés's works incorporate found objects which are recovered and methodically sculpted into the canvas - a process that harnesses the poetic potential of detritus, which the artist viewed as a symbol of perseverance through time and nature's forces.
Through this multi-faceted approach, which seems to oscillate between sculpture and painting, a magnetic interplay between serenity and alienation is palpable in these works, despite their seemingly inorganic nature.
Furthermore, the illumination of the picture from oblique angles creates a multiplicity of shadows that alter the composition according to the light source and offers the viewer alternate perspectives, ones that transcend the physical realm to reveal the artist's personal poetry, connecting artist and viewer.
It is also apparent that Avilés' compositions evoke landscapes, borne out by the horizontal space that separates the high from the low, the light from the heavy, the earth from the sky. He is a true master at manipulating perspective and light, through his controlled use of the materials but also through his limited palette.
"This knowledge of materials lends itself to darker colours (using grey materials), light and dark, and roughness, whilst avoiding artificial and brilliant colours: 'I always end up removing the yellow and reds," emphasizes Avilés."
-David Picó Sentelles
(Photo from the Artist's studio)
The artist often employs black and white with one other colour in his works, usually limited to greys, ochres, blues and reds. Black represents “the absence of clarity”, the earth and the unknowable, as white “conserves the presence of space,” of life, and of air. Such chromatic restrictions help Avilés add vibrancy and emotional resonance to his geometric abstractions.
In 2006, Avilés presented himself with a new challenge: a series of paintings with a clear and explicit reference to the 18th-century Italian draughtsman and engraver, Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Piranesi, who later influenced romanticism and surrealism, produced countless engravings based on his romanticized view of real and imaginary buildings of old Rome that were made with a surprising level of technical skill and ability.
"The combination of buildings illustrated in this etching could never actually be built. Among the spatial ambiguities, apparently deliberate, the three curving walls, as of a giant amphitheater or the interior walls of the Pantheon, do not relate logically to each other."
-The Met Collection
References to architectural constructions are characteristic of Avilés' work and form part of his elaborate pictorial technique. The homage to Piranesi is identifiable through two methodologies. First, Avilés very accurately reproduced fragments of these works and integrated them into his composition.
Alternatively, Avilés photographed industrial buildings (often in danger of demolition) and deftly and subtly integrated them into the picture plane, like his found objects. This new challenge permitted the artist to mirror the character of his old Catalan roots, that move and change like the material itself.
In 2012, Avilés challenged himself further by introducing a new medium to his oeuvre, printmaking, which suited his restrictive chromatic scheme and the oblique shapes of his large paintings and enabled him to recreate his precise vision with apparent creative ease.
Discover the artist in his studio as he prepares paintings and serigraphs for his show at the esteemed l´Escola LLotja in May 2013.
The artist's gestural and calligraphic designs which are transformed into a synthesis of different materials are here articulated in limited edition serigraphs on Arches paper made by the artist's hand. These works further articulate the artist's use of signs, graphics and symbols which allude to exteriors, abstract figures and barren landscapes.
"It is true that the works of Avilés impose an order of aesthetic dimensions: both symmetric and asymmetric, black and white (with black always present), reliefs, textures, divisions and perspectives, all meticulously presented, thought out and articulated. But as well as the artistic perspective, there is also the cognitive perspective: A specific view, a re-creation of the world, a metaphor, a physical landscape that at once transcends the physical. A personal poetry."
-David Picó Sentelles
Josep Maria Avilés was born in Barcelona. Avilés began his studies in 1964, at the prestigious Conservatorio de Artes Suntuarias Massana, where he later served as Professor of Enameling and Drawing from 1970 to 1994. In 1969, he began to exhibit his work in many group exhibitions, including the Salón de Mayo, Chile and other major venues in Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam and Vienna.
Avilés’ mixed media paintings are characterized by an architectonic manipulation of the space rooted in his appreciation and knowledge of the Russian Constructivists. His paintings are grounded in a combination of relief and flat structures, which culminate in a diversity of concave forms.
Avilés’ palette is fundamentally black and white with the addition, usually, of one other colour; black expressing “the absence of clarity” and white “conserving the presence of space.” Because of the raised pictorial surface, the illumination of the work from oblique angles creates a multiplicity of shadows, the composition altering with the direction of the light source.
Within these bas-relief works created from ‘found objects’, Avilés creates an axial tension between the vertical and horizontal thrust of the composition referencing the landscape with horizontal space connoting the earth below and the sky above with the introduction of oblique elements to animate the stillness.
2019 Antiguo Mercado Requena, Valencia.
2019 Centre Cultural Terrassa, Barcelona
2017 Gelida Exposición, Centre Cultural de Terrassa, Barcelona
2017 Fundació Tharrats, Calella de Palafrugell
2015 Museu De Arte Contemporaneo Florencio De La Fuente, Requena
2015 Landau Contemporary, Montreal
2013 “Llotja” Espai La Nau U, Barcelona
2010 Fundación Hervás Amezcua, Barcelona
2010 "Temps Fugit" Associació Art De Catalunya, La Nau, Tossa de Mar, Palau Moja, Barcelona
2008 La Capella de l’ Antic Hospital Sant Sadurní D’anoia, Barcelona
2007 Landau Contemporary at Galerie Dominion, Montreal
2006 Àmbit Galeria D’Art, Barcelona
2004 Torre Muntadas, Sala d’Art Josep Bages, Prat de Llobregat, Barcelona
2004 Colección Testimonio
2003-2004, Ayuntamiento de Pamplona, La Caixa
2003 Galeria Àgora, Sitges
2003 Fundación Enciclopedia Catalana in colaboration with l’Omnium Cultural, Barcelona
2001 Obra Graphica, Solvenia
1998 Galerie am Opernring, Vienna
1997 Manifesto Galería, Barcelona
1997 Museo “Torre Vella de Salou”, Tarragona
1996 Biblioteca Cívica, Cigliano
1995 “Kunstrai”, Amsterdam
1995 Manifesto Galería, Barcelona
1995 Fiers d’Arte Moderna e Contemporánea, “Artissimo”, Turin
1995 “Llotja” homage to Picasso, Horta de San Juan
1995 Collective in Walter Bischoff Galerie, Hölderlinstr, Stuttgart
1994 Fiera d’Arte Moderna e Contemporánea “Artissima”, Turin
1994 LA SALA, Sala de Exposiciones GELIDA, Barcelona
1993 Galería Canals, Sant Cugat del Vallés, Barcelona
1993 EUROPA A MIRÓ, Sant Cugat del Vallés, Barcelona
1993 “X de X” a Joan Miró, Galería Canals, Barcelona
1991 Pintores d’avui a Can MULÀ, Mollet del Valles
1990 Antiguo Ayuntamiento, Tarragona
1990 Exposición VIARÓ 25, Hotel Princesa Sofía, Barcelona
1990 Museo d’art Contemporàni, Bugar, Gerona
1988 Caja de Madrid Obra Cultural, Barcelona
1987 Casal de Cultura de Gelida, Barcelona
1986 Circulo Artístico de Sant Luc, Barcelona
1981 Sheffield Gallery, Chicago
We thank you for visiting our online exhibition. Please contact the gallery to find out more about this exceptional artist.