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Antoni Tàpies


Sold for 300.000 SEK at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale 7-10 June 2017.

500. Antoni Tàpies (Spain 1923‑2012). ”Fauteuil”. Signed Tàpies.
Fire-clay and enamel, Height 102, Length 97, Width 57 cm (excluding base).

Not unlike the eternal ideas or forms of the Greek philosopher Plato, Antoni Tàpies expressed an interest in the idea of an object in itself, making us reflect over the matter of shapes, dimensions, curves and lines. In a series of fire-clay sculptures made over the years of 1985-86, Tàpies examined everyday objects as a shirt, bowl, shoe and – featured in this auction – an armchair, giving concrete shapes to the very essence of these ideas. Simply named “Fauteuil”, the majestic sculpture is perhaps the ideal shape for an armchair, sharing the proper attributes of all armchairs, though with a purpose that stretches beyond sitting. This armchair is not a replica of any other armchair. This armchair is Tàpies’ objectification of the idea of an armchair.

Born into a catalan family in Barcelona, Tàpies continued the tradition of Spanish abstract painting where signs and symbols are important, as they both explain and proclaim. Even in early stages of his artistic process Tàpies showed an interest in collage and graffiti, as well as experimenting in the spirit of Dadaism. Since the post-war years he had developed a heightened interest in Eastern culture, and in the later years of the decade it became a fundamental philosophical influence on his work because of its emphasis on material. Tàpies’ later works, painting and sculpting alike, carry the signature of his heavy brush strokes and relief-like surfaces with a criss-cross of scratches and rents.

In the matter of philosophical influence, the “Fauteuil” is not an exception. The marks, scars and paint strokes on the backrest and left armrest showcases Tàpies’ mystic qualities. For Tàpies, the cross is a symbol of liberation from the constraints of religion, and the calligraphic brush strokes lead the viewer’s thoughts to Japanese and Chinese artistic tradition. Witnessing it all are the eyes inscribed on the black part of the headrest, one open the other closed. While examining the very essence of objects and their materials in their own right, Tàpies adds a new dimension of complexity to these objects through powerful signs and symbols, enriching seemingly trivial things. Tàpies’ sculptures, despite their sparse form language, contains a range of references to the cultural heritage of mankind, without clear instructions on how to read the signs. These mysterious qualities gives Tàpies’ work both simplicity and depth, undeniably creating an everlasting source of reflection and contemplation.

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