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Large Oval or Painting

Antoni Tàpies

Barcelona, 1923-2012

Large Oval or Painting

Mixed media on canvas

194.5 x 170 cm


Acquired in 1985

Large Oval is one of Tàpies’ first masterpieces, produced shortly after he had begun to experiment with the abstraction of Art Informel and matter painting. It is characterised by its formal simplicity, the sober presence of matter, shapes, signs and scratches and a moderate range of colour, limited to variants of ochre and grey, typical of old walls. The titles of Tàpies’ works always refer to the specific formal, iconographic, objectival or chromatic motifs they contain, stressing their materiality, their textual and physical nature. However, the evocative lyrical capacity and the contemplative solemnity that emanate from his oeuvre make it one of the most profound existential reflections in twentieth-century art. In 1953 Tàpies’ initially Surrealist oeuvre began to develop in two directions: towards the drama of Existentialism, on the one hand, and towards the meditative attitude of Zen Buddhism, on the other. The Catalan painter is probably the most complex and creative example of matter painting, one of the main branches of Art Informel previously developed by Fautrier and Dubuffet. The introduction of gestural marks, signs and waste materials, and the creation of three-dimensional works have enhanced the painter’s evolution, by means of which he has made significant contributions to both Arte Povera and Installation Art. [J.V.]