Miquel Barceló, was born in Felanitx on the island of Majorca, Spain on January 8, 1957. He studied art there briefly in the Arts and Crafts School of Palma de Majorca before enrolling at the Fine Arts School of Barcelona in 1974. After a year in Barcelona he would return to Majorca to protest with “Taller Lunátic”, a conceptual vanguardist group that fought against (in the arts, not actual fighting) the notion that “painting is dead” and the move to more contemporary practices like art installations and performance art.
In the 1980’s he traveled extensively throughout Europe, United States and West Africa and would eventually set up studios in both Paris and Segou, Mali. These cultural influences can be seen in his work. After a series of exhibitions in the early and mid 1980s, Barceló’s popularity grew to the point that his work was shown in the most prestigious galleries and museums including the National Gallery of Modern Art Pompidou Center in Paris.
As homage to his homeland, Miquel Barceló crafted a mural of approximately 300m² for Majorca´s San Pedro Cathedral Chapel in 2004. He covered the walls of the chapel with terra-cotta and painted them with images related to the miracle of the loaves and fish from John in the Bible. Also in 2004 a series of watercolors, illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy, were shown at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Barcelo was 47 years old and the youngest living artist ever to have their work shown in the Louvre.
His biggest commission was the domed ceiling of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Chamber in the UN’s Palace of Nations in Geneva. It features multicolored stalactite forms figuratively dripping from the ceiling. Barceló explained that the dome represented “a sea and a cave, in absolute and apposing union” He said the idea came to him “on a day of immense heat in the middle of the Sahel desert” in Africa in where “the mirage of an image of the world was dripping towards the sky…. flowing drop by drop”
Now in his sixties, Miquel Barceló continues to split his time working in Paris, Spain, and Mali today. His work includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and cast iron.
Today we will try some sculptural painting of our own. Show the students the different materials we have to add texture to their paintings. Tell them to lightly sketch out the design you want to make on your canvas board. You will want to keep your design somewhat simple and add one or two of the materials to give it a different texture. You may want to do something representational (a picture of something, made to look realistic) or abstract (a picture that is not of anything recognizable). You may want to paint the background first or you may want to add the joint compound to build up ridges or shapes and then carefully paint on top of that.
Some hints to help make these paintings more successful:
-Give the joint compound some time to dry by working on other areas before painting it.
-Paint very lightly over the compound. If you press into it, it will make marks. I often tell my students to just lightly tickle it with the brush.
-Lightly press the yarn or fabric into the compound or wet paint to help it adhere to the board.
*When setting up, I recommend getting there a few minutes early to fill water cups. (I usually do a cup per pair of students–it is less to clean up.) After I have given the discussion part of the lesson, I pass out the boards and while students are sketching their design, I pass out the water, brushes napkins and plates. Then I go around with the paint and give them small (dime sized) dabs of paint. I tell them they can always have more, but often this is all they need so we start with this much. Give the students that want it a spoonful of joint compound (they can have more if they need it, but it’s best to start small) and let them come get the other items off the cart as needed.
*Please wash the brushes very thoroughly with a small amount of dish soap and put them in the container with the brush tip up. (If you put the brushes down, it bends the bristles and they loose their shape and don’t work well.)