April 12, 2005

Last Sunday

We've had such a great Sunday in Barcelona and we met such wonderful people. But I can't really blog about it yet. First of all, I'd blow it. These people are solid, real, intelligent, open and caring. But it would get too gushy if I blogged on (the downside of have few qualms about expressing emotional sentiments, something I have to control)... look, it just won't work. Plus, I don't blog business. It's bad form and it would make for bad business. And anyway, there are too many other people to get involved in the shennanigans that is this blog.

All the more reason why I'm glad I didn't bring my hefty Olympus C-5050 Zoom: it alters reality too much when you pull the big dog Olympus out at the dinner table.

And then there is the little thing of spending the next six hours crafting a story teeming with special observations and epiphanies and feelings of the moment...

(Sometimes there is so much to blog, it's overwhelming.)


But let me cut and paste an excerpt from a recent letter to Andr?, who had introduced us in the first place*1

I'm happy to report a wonderful afternoon with Miguel and his wife Maria*2. They are charming, funny, informed, without pretension, committed, intelligent... I cold go on and on. Stephanie and I had a very very nice time with them, a Sunday in Barcelona on a very beautiful day.

The gallery is a couple of city blocks away from the Plaza Catalunya, a very central location. It is on the first floor (one level above the street), in a building that they live in as well (the top floor with a very large terrace). The show that was up was a Spanish Painters (I get the sense that Miguel shows Spanish artists, mainly painters and at least one conceptual sculptor... he was excited to find that I was born in Madrid). Not knowing the Spanish scene intimately, I estimate that when the Franco era came to a close, Spain emerged into the world during the heyday of the Transvanguardia or NeoExpressionism of the late 70's to early 80's. I think this is where Miguel's intellectual/cultural coordinates start from and I think he has evolved from there... to where, I am still assessing. Since he was a painter before he was a gallerist, he has a central passion for painting that I really appreciate.*4

Professionally, he is crazy for the scholastic/critical/historical aspect of archiving artworks. I have learned a little about the critical community in Spain, that it is very literary, driven by a few authoritative news sources (like the New York Times) and prey to fashionable trends and power struggles amongst the intelligencia. (But, so what else is new?) I guess this is all to say that it is like artworlds elsewhere, but more so*3. Miguel is keen to tell me all about it and he keeps his ship tight by pushing his archiving to extremes. For example, he has just published a 25 year anniversary catalog and the back end of the book documents for each artwork, every exhibition it had been shown in, every review that referred to it, and in some cases, a little essay in one or two paragraphs by a VIP in the critical/literary world. He is also digitizing all reviews, his backroom is preoccupied with this project. Contradictorily, he is resisting the internet (but he can't do it for long!).

*1 It is rare when introductions work, rare for me at least in this artworld. Whether it is me trying to introduce fellow artists/friends to my galleries, or my galleries introducing my work to other galleries, the times that this actually succeeds are exceedingly rare. Exceedlingly rare. ?Pero como no? It's a matter of chemistry and circumstance, isn't it? There is a matter of naturalism that you have to attend to. You can't force these things.

*2 Maria is a lawyer, a judge and a teacher of law. She knows art but prefers to live it non-professionally, leaving that to Miguel. Conversations with her can go anywhere with depth and ease.

*3 Like a greenhouse, a hot house. The history of isolation in Spain has left a mark that isn't entirely bad.

*4 Unlike other former artist-turned-gallerist/dealers that I have known, I didn't sense a lingering desire to possess the identity of an artist. With Miguel, I detect an evolution of an idea of art creation that goes beyond the studio... by this I mean that his gallery is is art form. You can see this in the archive mania and the attention he pays to the critical community in documenting their efforts and integrating and linking these efforts (literally?) to each physical artwork and show. It is painstaking, and only those who are under a sort of spell can take such pain. It's like some collectors that I have met, those who have gone over (like Coppola's Kurtz?) to an activity that parallels artmaking itself.

There is so much more to report, but it will have to wait for another blogpost.

Posted by Dennis at April 12, 2005 12:57 PM

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