Souvenir (1984) – Focus 25

Without the black stripe in the foreground, the format would have been a square. Antoni Clavé invites us straight away in a world of illusion: fake square and pleated fabrics. Half of the painting is indeed composed of a trompe l’œil: a “creased paper” as art historians like to define these effects around which Clavé started playing in the seventies.

“Étrange instrument” 1962-76 wood, cardboard, metal, string, staples (62 x 52,5 x 13,5 cm)

The upper part is composed of large flat tints of paint, drips, collages of real papers or parts left aside, along with some long red strings and raw ropes fixed by drawing pins. These horizontal lines are reminding us of the engravings and sculptures called “instruments étranges”, which were under the spotlights at the occasion of Clavé’s exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in 1978. With this horizontality, enhanced with the black drips which are extending the central motif, a staff emerges in eye of the spectator. Meanwhile, the drawing pins, either real or represented, as well as the ink stains may embody what one can see as a melody.

The use of raw or shredded materials with common objects all put together into a geometrical construct is confusing and questioning the spectator.
The parts left uncovered and stained (almost dirty) as well as the basic materials are in symmetrical opposition with the perfect illusion created in the lower part.
Yet the alchemy happens. The trompe l’œil is so well executed that our sight is carried away in a musical and dreamlike landscape.
This painting dates back from 1984 and is untitled Souvenir. The title certainly relates to the “Instuments” and the “creased papers”. It is in 1984 that Clavé represented Spain at the Venice Biennale, and the painting is created during this time. He is celebrated and gains recognition, while already planning the next step.

“Triptyque”, 1983, Oil on canvas (230 x 600 cm)

« Faune aux gravures », 1985, Oil and collage on canvas, (220 x 140 cm)

The most recent painting shown in Venice is Triptyque; its central panel, fully covered by paint, is also a “creased paper” with a large black flat tint of paint in the lower part. A year later, two exhibits are organized around a series of works paying tribute to ‘Don Pablo’ in the gallery Regards and at the Picasso Museum in Antibes. These are compositions in two parts, creased papers opposed to assemblage of raw materials, and are presenting similarities with the painting broached here.

We like to see Souvenir as a bridge between two periods: before and after the Venice Biennale, the personal recognition evolving toward an homage to the Master.
Souvenir will be on view again at the Fondation Yoshii in Tamanashi (close to Tokyo) from September 2018 on