solo show at Franklin Bowles Galleries
New York 2023
Miquel Gelabert (Blanes, 1979) is one of the painters who has most tenaciously renewed the idea of landscape in Catalonia. Since the sixties, many artists opted for an anti-pictorial look at nature, through land art, performativity or audiovisual experimentation. But it was an ephemeral wave of a certain time; when Miquel Gelabert began to paint, at the beginning of the 00s, he found a strong emptiness and a need to recover and renew a well-determined but forgotten pictorial tradition. In fact, we can say that contemporary Catalan art has evolved through landscape: paintings by Miró (Montroig), Dalí (Cadaqués), Tàpies (Montseny) and Arranz-Bravo (Cadaqués, Tarragona, Vallvidrera) connect deeply with the values that govern the Catalan landscape: bright and clear, but also often mysterious and disturbing.
Miquel Gelabert embraces this spirit of renewal in the face of nature in a solitary, almost monastic way: focusing on the interior reflection of the landscape that he has integrated since his birth – that of the seafaring town of Blanes, 70 km north of Barcelona – and in a way diametrically opposed to the chrematistic values of our society. Miquel Gelabert’s painting is slow, analytical, constant, persevering. There is no rush, but it does not lack spontaneity. There is no precipitation, but it is intense. There is harmony, but also tension. In a world where every innovation has expired the next minute it has been conceived, Miquel Gelabert’s painting today appears as a refuge of slowness, depth and wisdom: of someone who for almost two decades has dedicated himself to meditating, to loving, a certain idea of landscape.
Miquel Gelabert has renewed landscaping by distancing himself from it, capturing it from its atmospheric and mental dimension. His canvases are like interfaces that allow us to connect certain natural features with the projections of his imaginary: that he is rich, disturbing, dreamy, vibrant and, also, changing. In the last ten years Gelabert has been incorporating formal motifs – lines, plots, rectangles, gestures – into a natural framework of reference, opening new windows of relationship with his work. Miquel Gelabert’s painting evolves from an analytical and purifying perspective towards a spontaneous and warm expression of the same forms as always – triangles, gestures, layers, horizon lines. His painting is governed, thus, by an incorruptible internal coherence based on a difficult balance between change and permanence. An unusual ability to revisit the same imagery from an open and reflective register, which allows him to welcome change, small, fragile and intimate variation. A landscape, undoubtedly, fertile and humanized, very necessary within the framework of our hurried civilization. -Albert Mercade