José Maria Sicilia

Artgrafic / Gallería Joan Prats

A glassy magma deposited over imaginary millennia covers the six canvases that comprise José Maria Sicilia’s most recent show. The cracked and rough appearance of these works suggests the prehistoric formation of the world. In these canvases the still amorphous material seems yet to coalesce into distinct forms and colors. For Sicilia the investigation of origins implies the dissociation of the material from its possible attributes, and yet neutrality of color, and the transformation of chalky grounds into earthier and damper tones paradoxically achieves a certain visual plenitude. At times linear elements insinuate themselves like a kind of geometric specter, lost in an oasis of silence and immovable masses.

This exclusive concentration on the material eruption parallels the artist’s own withdrawal from figuration. The restlessness that is transmitted by these canvases is accompanied by a skepticism that overwhelms Sicilia and makes him cautious, impeding the impulsiveness of line or stain in his paintings. The flood of images that accumulate during the process of painting recalls an earlier primeval eruption. Sicilia seems to construct masses of paint with his hands, giving meaning to each alteration, each wrinkle, and each shadow. He is a connoisseur of the disturbance that the slightest movement creates.

For Sicilia there is a complete osmosis between painting and the surrounding space, to such an extent, in fact, that when he works he virtually inhabits the paintings. Until two years ago, he lived and worked in Paris in a studio with no electricity, which necessitated limiting his painting to those hours when natural light was available; as a result, his work acquired qualities reflecting the density of light, its speed, and changes according to the seasons. Now he spends much of his time in Mallorca, but the continuity of his works and esthetic preoccupations has remained constant. His papers covered in wax, as well as his serial work on glass, also shown in this exhibition, along with the six canvases,contrast transparency and opacity, time and space, light and shadow.

Menene Gras Balaguer

Translated from the Spanish by Hanna Hannah.