Xavier Grau

Galería Carles Taché

Xavier Grau literally needs to lose himself in the canvas, yielding to the vertigo the blankness produces at the very moment he mars it with the first brushstroke. The work takes shape as he paints; its mystery stems from the complexity of superpositions that from an irregular network of spiderlike webs which seem to hold each element in place. For all his apparent spontaneity, Grau is an extremely self-conscious painter; he is cautious in his approach to the forms that derive from colors that have expanded on the canvas and which he unites with the contiguous figures that are also born from the color itself. Some of the forms seem to make no reference to the real world, while others suggest parts of objects, silhouettes of human bodies, geometric details drawn in thick outlines. These forms playfully hide themselves in the labyrinth that Grau constructs as he paints.

Grau conceives of the world as an animated chaos, and his use of color and the fluidity of his gesture reflect this conception of the natural, physical world. His surfaces seem to be continually in flux, predisposed to disorder and disintegration, reflective of the impossibility of unity, even a subjective one. The repetition of iconographic motifs makes for an order of a kind, however, but the dominant characteristic of his work is a sense of organic life. Everything in the canvas seems animate, as if it were interacting with its surroundings. It is as if Grau were portraying a real landscape that cannot be grasped in its entirety. The territory he charts becomes a map of the storehouse of memory, in all its confusion and multiplicity.

Grau’s painting draws on that of Willlem de Kooning and Philip Guston, painters who are for him the most significant representatives of Abstract Expressionism. There are also similarities between his work and that of more contemporary artists such as Sigmar Polke, as is particularly evident in Grau’s superposition of painted surfaces on selected iconographic motifs. Like many of his contemporaries, Grau remains wary of the seductions of painting, inscribing a certain criticality into the work itself without abandoning the medium altogether.

Menene Gras Balaguer

Translated from the Spanish by Vincent T. Martin.