The Catalan painter and sculptor Antoni Tàpies was born in Barcelona in 1923, where he was brought up in an intellectual environment. His life and work are firmly rooted in his native city.
It was in Barcelona that he completed his studies, in law as well as drawing, and founded in 1948, the art review, Dau al Set ; there also that he met the painter Miró, who played an influential part in his brief flirtation with Surrealism. More important, however, in his development as an artist was his discovery of Eastern philosophies and, during his stay in Paris, of “Art Informel” with Dubuffet, Fautrier and others. After his first one-man exhibition in Barcelona in 1950 he soon achieved international recognition and his work was shown all over the world.
He won prestigious awards : the Venice Biennale in 1958 and 1993, the Picasso Medal in 1993, and France’s National Painting Prize in 1985. In 1983 Barcelona not only commissioned a monumental sculpture entitled “Homage to Picasso”, but also gave him a building in which to house the Antoni Tàpies Foundation, inaugurated in 1990. Tàpies is now considered one of the leading contemporary artists and his works are found in all the great museums.
Through his fusion of Eastern and Western influences, Tàpies develops a distinctive style which provokes a disturbing, unspoken dialogue between man and matter, where the spiritual struggles with stark reality. Rough earth-coloured backgrounds where paint is mixed with various substances (sand, fabric, marble, plaster, wire, rope) appear to be “walls” which have been slashed, cut and inscribed with hieroglyphics of a primordial language. Tapies’ art is impossible to place within a particular movement, reflecting as it does an image of chaos tamed, which powerfully expresses the preoccupations of the world we live in. He himself defines his works as “battlefields where wounds are multiplied to infinity”.
A nose, two hearts, a mouth, an eye : the scarlet design, conceived and annotated by Tàpies for the Mouton Rothschild 1995 label, proclaims, with a smile, that feast of the senses which promises a great wine.