Jan Dibbets

Espai Poblenou

Jan Dibbets used Barcelona as the background and pretext for the work he exhibited here. The fascination that details of particular Modernist buildings in this city hold for him led him to conceive of a series much like his previous ones, based on architectural sites such as San Cassiano Ceiling, 1979; or Spoleto Duomo, 1980. Dibbets has juxtaposed photography with painting since 1967; he considers painting irreplaceable and he uses it to correct the superficial appearance of things. Here Dibbets subjects photographs he shot on a previous visit to his characteristic method of selective decomposition, exposing the disorder hidden behind apparently seamless reality. The ambiguity of these images introduces the viewer into the domain of abstraction. It is as if he harnesses the residue of particular sites to recuperate a symbolic landscape that allows internal vision.

For Dibbets, architecture simulates natural order, and he is attracted to it for its artificiality—for its structural order—which he distorts, creating unthinkable perspectives. Even so, in the works in the current exhibition, the cupola of the Instituto del Teatro can be detected, as can the cover of the old Mercat del Born, and the windows of the stables that Antonio Gaudí built for the Palacio Pedralbes. The variations on these themes are coupled with other, distant sources: the windows of a Frank Gehry building, or the cupola of a church in Montreal, France. Dibbets presents fragmentary forms in rhythmic sequences, and once again, photography provides the basis for his compositions. The origin of such experiments can already be found in his study of the movement of light in The Shadows in my Studio, 1969, for which he took a photograph every ten minutes from 8:40 A.M. to 2:10 P.M. Dibbets’ intervention in the Espai has not been limited to the placement of the work. He had certain aspects of the space modified: the transparent windows were replaced with opaque ones, and a dividing wall was placed between the two central pillars to amplify the vertical surfaces and give a sense of direction to the space.

In the current exhibition Dibbets has presented a work made for Barcelona, and his excited discovery of the city contributed to its realization.

Menene Gras Balaguer

Translated from the Spanish by Hanna Hannah.