Antoni Tàpies: The Practice of Art – a centennial celebration

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Bozar presents the largest retrospective dedicated to Spanish post-war artist Antoni Tàpies  (1923-2012) in nearly two decades. This monumental exhibition, curated by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid in collaboration with Bozar and the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, offers a comprehensive overview of Tàpies’ body of work, featuring over 120 paintings, drawings, and sculptures.

Tàpies’ artistic journey is one that evolves and transforms over time, and this retrospective beautifully traces the various phases of his career. Visitors are initially introduced to his early self-portraits and works influenced by surrealism and dadaism. However, the highlight of the exhibition is Tàpies’ exploration of “matiérisme” or ‘informal art’ in the 1950s, where he incorporates raw materials, stains, and signs into his art. Using everyday materials like string, sand or straw, he suggests that beauty can be found in small, everyday objects.

Walking through the exhibition, one cannot help but be captivated by Tàpies’ ability to push the boundaries of artistic expression. His matiérisme technique challenges conventional notions of art, blurring the lines between painting and sculpture. Tàpies’ work exudes a tactile quality that invites viewers to engage with the pieces on a visceral level, forging a profound connection between the art and its audience.

A self-taught artist during the interwar period, Tàpies reflected on the human condition, his historical situation and the artistic practice, especially the limits and contradictions of painting. His very prolific oeuvre is scattered all over the world.

Manuel Borja-Villel serves as the curator of this historic exhibition, the first Tàpies retrospective in Belgium in nearly four decades. This showcase, inaugurating the “Year of Tàpies” (“Any Tàpies”), makes its European debut at Bozar as part of Spain’s presidency of the EU Council, before travelling to Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofía and Barcelona’s Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

The retrospective also highlights Tàpies’ commitment to addressing profound societal issues. His artwork reflects his engagement with politics and his quest for social justice, making it not just aesthetically stimulating but also intellectually thought-provoking.

The exhibition runs from 15 September to 7 January 2024.