press release

Inauguration: 22 January 2009

Exhibited regularly in France, the work of Joan Rabascall (Barcelona, 1935) from the early sixties to the early eighties is barely known in Catalonia. This exhibition analyses his production during this period, a key era in the artist's career as it enables us to decipher the central code of his concerns: from the landscape of the communications media to that of ideologies and technological transformations and their imprint on the consideration of the human, the way the media demarcate the construction of the historical memory and the position of art as an antidote and counterpoint to the standardisation of ideas.

The art critic Alexandre Cirici wrote in 1970, "We often find the name Rabascall among the promoters of manifestations of investigation, in Paris, London or Amsterdam. Lately, we've found it linked to the strange phenomenon of the revival of the ceremonial. But in Catalonia he continues to be largely unknown. That's why we think we should talk about him." It was in fact necessary to wait until 1985 to find him in an exhibition, the Barcelona-Paris-New York (The Course of Twelve Catalan Artists, 1960-1980), in the Palau Robert, and in projects presented in the Virreina (1993) and the Centre d'Art Santa Mònica (2000). Now, the MACBA recovers a series of works with a heavy dose of cultural criticism dating from a period of breakage and conflict in European culture and politics.

The exhibition is structured around a concrete series of works and includes, among others, the collages made from 1964 to 1968, the first emulsified canvasses and photographic prints on metal. Works are also displayed from the early seventies which employ texts and statistical data on culture in a kind of ready-made; the Souvenir Landscapes of 1975, in which he contrasts images from tourist postcards of towns where there were once concentration camps, with the places where these camps were actually built, and the Landscapes of 1982, which show images of different localities on the Costa Brava that reveal the effect of tourism on the transformation of landscapes.

Rabascall's work may be situated in the setting of a 'perverse', steely vision of criticism of the object and the consumption unfolding in Europe, in contrast to the fascination for the industrial product of American Pop. An expert in British and French art (Rabascall has lived in Paris since 1961), he knows Lawrence Alloway and Pierre Restany, the Independent Group and the Nouveaux Réalistes, and mixes with avant-garde groups that retrieve techniques and positions reminiscent of Berlin Dadaism. The criticism of culture linked to political positions of opposition and revolt led him to explore culture's dependence on the economy, fashion and politics and would result, in the seventies, in his developing a reflection on the construction of history and the way the tourism industry shapes landscapes, lands and languages.

Joan Rabascall
Kurator: Bartomeu Mari