Permanent Collection

Albert Ràfols Casamada

Barcelona, 1923

Born into a family of artists—his father was a well-known noucentista painter—Ràfols-Casamada inherited a deep respect and love for painting that is reflected in his pristine, elegant and restrained oeuvre. Serene and intelligent, his paintings are solidly built around pure structures dominated by orthogonal lines and radiant colors. Geometrical forms organize the picture surface, while colors generate gaseous masses devoid of edges that stretch beyond the surface, thus gaining autonomy. This sort of composition owes much to his interest in Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko, as well as to the antagonistic personality of the artist, who had a solid academic background but also possessed a poetic vein.

"Pleniluni (Espai nocturn)" [Full Moon (Nocturnal Space)], 1983
"Pleniluni (Espai nocturn)"
[Full Moon (Nocturnal Space)], 1983

Pleniluni (Espai nocturn) is a good example of the sense of balanced tension present in his body of work. A geometrical structure located on the left side divides the painting into two separate areas. A few broken lines are then superimposed on this structure, adding a dynamic quality to the scene. The composition as a whole appears to evoke an intimate place, perhaps a hidden corner of the artist’s studio, secretly lit by a full moon. Though these simplified figures may appear to be the leitmotiv of the painting, color is its main theme. The bluish moonlight spreads over the scene, producing a vibrating effect along the contour of objects, as well as progressions in color and transparent layers. Ràfols- Casamada’s oeuvre has always relied on the use of these still and calm shades of blue, pink, mauve or white, which invite the viewer to peacefully contemplate the composition.

Javier Maderuelo

In the late 1940s, Ràfols-Casamada’s work was influenced by late cubism. During this period of his career he painted forms that were broken down into facets in order to progressively simplify the elements of the painting and, consequently, achieve an abstraction devoid of any references to the motif that had originally inspired it. As a result, what remained in the canvas was pure structure and color—both fundamental aspects of Ràfols-Casamada’s work.

"Nausica" [Nausicaa], 1989
"Nausica" [Nausicaa], 1989

As viewers, we generally reduce our perception of painting to the recognition of images. It was precisely for this reason that artists such as Ràfols-Casamada, Joan Hernández Pijuan and Jordi Teixidor attempted to separate painting from images, emphasizing the sensorial element of the medium above the merely visual ones, and thus underscoring the act of painting in itself by concentrating on the density of the paint, the marks of the brush or the different textures. In other words, the manner of working now became the true subject of the painting. In works such as Nausica, Ràfols- Casamada maintains the suggestion of a supposed subject that is only made explicit by the title. In this case the subject is the nymph Nausicaa, who rescued Odysseus during his return voyage to Ithaca. Ràfols-Casamada uses the title as a metaphorical starting point in order to bestow a Mediterranean significance to a composition characterized by its harmonious structure and a sobriety that could be described as classical in its coloring. Vertical and horizontal lines defined with a confident, lyrical stroke are applied to two matching squares in which large brushstrokes create fields of color in warm tones.

Javier Maderuelo

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Catálogo del Museu Fundación Juan March, Palma de Mallorca.