At Picasso, Miquel Barceló testifies to a passionate inner life

By Andalusia

Each of the works in the Metamorphosis exhibition by artist Miquel Barceló draws attention to the artist's transhumant cultural condition, his passionate inner life.   

The Mallorcan affirms that what he received from Picasso is "a kind of generic influence, a way of relating to life, a way of being in the world". The artistic periods, an incessant way of working, the chromatic richness, the discourse with the great tradition, the fascination for the mythology and the symbolism of bullfighting or the illustration of books, unite these two Spanish artists, cosmopolitan and creators of 'an art as primitive as it is irresistibly modern.

Each work is experimental, each work is a repetition for another, which will probably never exist, and I think that this applies as much to my painting as to my ceramic or to anything that comes out of my hand

His work has been exhibited in prestigious institutions around the world such as the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Louvre Museum in Paris, or the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, in Rome, among others. His recent work, inspired by Franck Kafka's book Métamorphose, is visible until September at the Picasso Museum in Malaga . 

A transhumant artist

Miquel Barceló (Felanich, Balearic Islands, January 8, 1957), one of the contemporary Spanish artists with the greatest international recognition, became known in the context of the emergence of figurative painting in the 1980s. travels to Paris, a city that had a strong artistic impact on him. That same year, he began to take courses in drawing and modeling at the School of Decorative Arts in Palma de Mallorca. Shortly after, he enrolled at the Sant Jordi School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, ​​where he only had a few months left before continuing his training on a self-taught basis. 

His participation in the Sâo Paulo Biennale (1981) and in the Documenta de Kassel VII (1982) projected him onto the international art scene and museums and galleries around the world began to take an interest in his work. In the following years he will receive important prizes, such as the National Prize for Plastic Arts (1986) and the Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts (2003). In 2007, he presented the extraordinary ceramic altarpiece of the cathedral of Palma de Mallorca, in which he recreates the miracle of the loaves and the fish. At the end of 2008, he became famous all over the world for the dome of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the United Nations Palace in Geneva, in which he masterfully represented a great ocean with thousands of marine stalactites.

Miquel Barceló is always very active, wherever he is, whether in Africa, Latin America, Japan, Nepal, Paris or Mallorca, his native island. He appropriates the places where he sets up his studio and feeds his inspiration there with light, dust, air, earth, water and even the work of other artists from the region. 

His work incorporates many and very varied cultural references: baroque painting, American abstract expressionism, Italian Arte Povera, brut art; and artists such as Caravaggio, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Goya, Paul Klee, Jan Dubuffet, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró or Antoni Tàpies, are some of the influences that Barceló transfigured, with an overflowing imagination, into a formidable personal synthesis.

He uses a wide variety of materials, incorporating algae, food, milk, bleach, eggs and blood into his work. He smeared paintings with smoke, drew on termite-stuck paper or painted on canvases that were curved or cut with a chainsaw. His tactile relationship with the materials with which he works - whether clay, dyes, bark or pigments - denotes his great passion for nature.


The exhibition

Under the curatorship of Enrique Juncosa, the Museo Picasso Málaga presents ceramics, paintings, watercolors, artist's notebooks and mixed works. 

In the center, a selection of thirty ceramics characterized by their roughness, presenting lacerated, fragmented and pierced shapes, in which figurative elements appear in reference to plants and aquatic beings, sometimes having anthropomorphic characteristics. 

This set sums up the interests of an artist who, without abandoning painting, explored the formal and conceptual possibilities of ceramics. 

These clay creations such as Totems, large-format ceramics made from superimposed blocks, which evoke classical architecture, deities and mythological characters from an unknown civilization, were made in his workshop-studio in Vilafranca de Bonany (Mallorca).


Miquel Barceló also exhibits his recent large-format paintings, blue and black night landscapes, with a stormy full moon sky, in which movement and light resonate. 

There is also a self-portrait with a charred appearance, the result of scratching a black surface, and paintings with animal reliefs that allude to cave paintings and which testify that, for Barceló, prehistory is as modern as any other period in the history of art.

Passionate reader, renowned writer and connoisseur of great works of world literature, the exhibition includes original illustrated books, such as Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, which he illustrated for Gutenberg, or The Metamorphosis of Franz Kafka, which he produced for the French publishing house Gallimard, a series of fifteen gouaches that the artist created on this story of an old man.

Barcelo Picasso Malaga
Photo: François Halard, 2019 

This series of fifteen gouaches are exhibited alongside two other series of contemporary watercolors made in Thailand and India, countries that he has visited on several occasions over the past two years, whose vibrant chromaticism transports us to a particular and idealized universe. of myths and legends. These works show characters, from the animal or plant kingdom, with whom the viewer once again perceives the seduction of mutation. 

A selection of six travel diaries, the result of the artist's travels in Asia, is also presented in this exhibition in collaboration with the "La Caixa" Foundation.

Seven large-format bronzes, depicting several matches worn and twisted after being consumed by fire, are installed in the Renaissance courtyard of the Picasso Museum in Malaga, as was done in previous exhibitions of the works of Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, Alexander Calder or James Turrell. 


For the second time, after Prince's exhibition in 2012, the Museo Picasso Málaga is dedicating an exhibition to a living contemporary artist. To celebrate such an event, over the next few weeks, the Picasso Museum will invite writers and booksellers who will offer a literary journey around Barcelo's work. Through social networks and the museum's website, booksellers and writers will recommend a book related, in some way, to the works in the exhibition.

So, take advantage of the celebration of Andalusia Day this coming Sunday, February 28, 2021, to visit the Picasso Museum in Malaga, entry will be free for all, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ticket offices close half an hour before) .

In addition to "Miquel Barceló.Metamorphosis", museum visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the Cherry installation by American artist James Turrell and see or re-examine the works of Picasso that make up " Dialogues with Picasso . Collection 2020-2023 ".