“I am a great specialist in causing accidents.”

“I am a great specialist in causing accidents.”

BarcelonaUsing ceramics, Miquel Barcelo (Filantics, 1957) travels through time. In the documentary Barcelo, traces of fangsWhich was shown for the first time this evening at La Pedrera in conjunction with the exhibition Barcelona We are all GreekThe Mallorcan artist remembers that he started making ceramics in Mali with Neolithic techniques, and that this place and this way of working made him feel younger. “The Malian pottery is like the Neolithic,” Barceló says in the documentary, directed by Josep María Civit and co-produced by Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera and Minimal Films.

“In Africa, everything gets old so quickly, and I seemed to be young again. It's a strange thing. After two months I felt like I had wasted twenty years. I was like Dorian Gray, something perverted.” Later, Barcelona explained, he made “an advance of 5,000 years” and began using techniques from the 19th century until reaching the 21st century in the workshop, in an old tile factory in Vilafranca de Bonanni (Mallorca). As Civit points out, Barceló is a unique potter: As a painter, he uses tools that don't belong in the art world, such as a type of wood pulp that Barceló says is used in the production of Gruyère cheese. He also takes materials to the extreme, as seen in his mural in the Santissimo Church in Palma Cathedral. “I had a fruitful relationship with Gaudí. Often things end in a way you didn't expect, and I like that risk,” warns Barceló.

Often, the starting point for small-scale ceramics from Barcelona is a jug or Gabriel that he creates himself by imitating radical movements: he deforms them with strokes, or extracts other shapes by making cuts on them entirely. In fact, many of his works have been downright plagiarized. “I am a great specialist in causing accidents,” says the artist in front of a painting of two lobsters on display in La Pedrera. “The pottery has survived everything, and none of the Greek paintings survive, except one in a tomb at Paestum. On the other hand, no one bothered to destroy the pottery. Breaking it with a hammer requires hard work. Moreover, “You can rebuild it. The houses are burning, but the ceramics become invisible at the right moment,” explains the artist during a visit to the exhibition with the poet Dolores Miquel.

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An organic and rebellious painter

The evening continued with a dialogue between Miquel Barceló and the poet, writer and trafficker of ideas, Vicens Altayo. Sites were sold out for days. They met in the 1970s in Mallorca, and Altayo dedicated an exhibition to Barcelo's early works in 2010 during his tenure as Santa Monica arts director. “Miquel was always very organic and talked to us about life and death by mixing living matter and figurative material – explains Altayo -. He did everything they asked me not to do during my short time at the School of Fine Arts: draw with mince or paint, and he was about “Paste it.”

Altayo recalls that in times of crises in painting, Barceló was received with “optimism” because he showed that things could be done again, that “you can paint beautifully again.” “We now live in a time of decadent historicism,” Barcelo warned. This is a flaw he attributed to his eagerness to be politically correct.

“Ceramics are the total form of painting”

“I've always assumed that tradition is something interesting, not a burden,” Barceló says. For this reason, he does not differentiate much between poetry and art and feels very close to the authors. Nor between ceramics, sculpture and painting. He emphasizes that “ceramics is the complete form of painting.” “Mikel himself is a piece of ceramic, and in the documentary it has the color of the earth,” says Altayo. It didn't seem strange to Barcelo, and he recalled a performance he had with choreographer Joseph Nadge, where they merged with clay. “When we did it in Mali, they thought it was a sacrifice, and they were surprised to find Kahn alive in the end,” the artist recalls.

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Another talking point was the Santissimo Chapel in Palma Cathedral. It was controversial for part of the audience, but Barceló remembers the support he received from Bishop Teodor Úbeda. As for his side as an author, Barceló considers himself more of a reader, with Llull closer to him than ever, writing when he “had no other choice”: “In Mali, he would write when he was sick: he would write if he vomited or vomited.” If he had diarrhoea, I wrote out of sheer necessity; If I could have said that through drawing, I would not have written. The more I read, the more I realized I shouldn't be writing.

Great monuments, from Barcelona to Geneva

Throughout its history, Barcelo has undertaken huge projects such as the Mercat de les Flors dome and, later, the UN project in Geneva, the latter containing 60,000 kilograms of pigments. “It is the only work in the world that contains all pure, unmixed pigments,” explains Barceló. Likewise, Altayo reminded him of the health of his essence and the return to nature, while mentioning that he was a pioneer in environmental protection and did actions such as occupying Dragonera Island. Despite everything, he says he has no allergy to technology like Robinson and believes that artificial intelligence does not pose a danger, although he claims that it works “with the body.”

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