Carles Gabarró

(Barcelona, 1956)

The pictorial imagery of Carles Gabarró was shaped in the nineteen-eighties. It was in Paris that he first heard the siren call of painting and embarked on a free, self-taught artistic path within an exciting context marked by the emergence of German neo-expressionism, the Italian transavantgarde and the triumph of new Spanish painting. Gabarró sought to articulate a shadowy, metaphorical painting that responded to his most intimate obsessions – the human condition, solitude, death – and to create painterly motifs – skulls, books, beds, shipwrecks – that connect his work to
contemporary and universal painting. The result is a body of expressive, meditative and structured work, in a style that he has consistently refined, despite changing trends in the art world.
The eruption of Gabarró’s tragic iconography into the rich and lively art world of the nineteen-eighties may seem paradoxical, but sensuality and drama, pleasure and death, beauty and the abyss are human dimensions that contaminate each other more than reason can admit. Because, to quote Rilke’s immortal verse, “beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror”. Consequently, the experience of “an intensely beautiful life” – to use the language of the time – must also find its “abyssal” counterpart, and this we find, precisely, in Carles Gabarró’s painterly iconography.
Gabarró’s painting explores new expressive horizons: metaphysical, psychological and indeterminate landscapes well suited to his reflections on the core motifs in his existential meditation.
This is, in any case, pictorial art. Gabarró’s painting seeks to capture forms that elude representation, that do not illustrate, that do not narrate. Painting, and nothing but painting. Forms that defy reason and understanding, that are constructed by the preconscious apparatus, that are erroneous but true, oblique but genuine.
However this may be, the greatness of Gabarró’s contemporary work lies in his ability to filter all that psychological burbling through the framework of a serene, structured order in which his painterly work takes shape. His art revolves around general motifs, tinged with nostalgia, such as abandoned bookcases, staircases and factories.
Gabarró’s work is, then, a hypothesis: a far-reaching exploration of a human condition which, freed from ancestral dogmas, roams the world, restless and delirious. But his art also celebrates existence: a life that is propelled into artistic combat with death in an intense desire for vital affirmation. It is, in the end, a sedimentary work, one that emerges from the sandy accumulation generated by many ebbs and flows of painterly meditation over time, in the same sombre, expressive rhythms that sustain the free unfolding of existence.
Excerpts from the text by Albert Mercadé for the catalogue of the exhibition Carles Gabarró Hypothesis of Existence. Tecla Sala de L’Hospitalet, 2022