Overview

Grisailles is an exhibition of new paintings by Mallorcan artist Miquel Barceló, featuring his most recent series of still lifes. It will take place across the gallery’s expansive Pantin space.

Music from far-away parties, today’s banquets and those from long ago – all on the same very long table. — Miquel Barcelò

Grisailles
is an exhibition of new paintings by Mallorcan artist Miquel Barceló, featuring his most recent series of still lifes. It will take place across the gallery’s expansive Pantin space.

Miquel Barceló’s practice is influenced by his Mallorcan surroundings, as well as his profound knowledge of the history of art. His new series of still lifes is rendered in planes of pink, red, yellow or grey, with white accents, in a variation on the art historical tradition of grisaille painting. Behind the paint, the canvas is still visible, resulting in works that are airier and more loosely composed than the artist’s previous paintings of still lifes. Influenced by 17th-century Dutch painting and the Spanish bogedón genre, the life-size diagonal tables that intersect the paintings seem to invite viewers to take part in the banquet laid out by the artist. 

Among the objects and creatures on offer can be found a number of highly symbolic elements reminiscent of the vanitas genre that became popular in Dutch still lifes as a warning against overindulgence. Empty shells, bones and skulls act as memento mori, reminding viewers of their own mortality. They are contrasted by the vegetal elements on the tables: bouquets of flowers and dried palm leaves, which symbolise life and rebirth. Beside them, sea creatures that the artist fishes himself on the island where he lives and works, connect the scene to the land. Eels and shrimp, fish and octopi, they suggest a comment on the excesses of 21st-century life, on the precarity of plenitude and on the value of a profound connection with nature.

Grisaille à l'espadon (2022), from the artist’s new series of still lifes, will also be on view at the Louvre from 12 October 2022 until 23 January 2023, as part of the unprecedented Les Choses exhibition dedicated to the genre.

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