Jaume Ribas’s painting in the Museum of Montserrat

Jaume Ribas’s painting in the Museum of Montserrat


Sala Daura in the Museum of Montserrat houses, from 22nd October until 19th March 2017, the exhibition Apse, by Jaume Ribas (Palou, Granollers, 1944), a painting for the contemplation, for the slow, deep and reflective look. “It focuses us on an unfathomable space which, at the same time, is a bare surface, a blind plane which returns our gaze and forces us to think about ourselves”, affirms the art critic Àlex Mitrani, curator of the exhibition.

This exhibition is the opportunity to discover the most constructive Jaume Ribas. His large chromatic artefacts reveal a sensuality that is at once playful yet solemn. To the careful selection of works, which emphasise his architectural sense of colour, in the exhibition in Sala Daura the painter’s last works have been added. It is here where Jaume Ribas surprises us: from the Matisse’s and Rothko’s legacy passes to the dialogue with Motherwell or Soulages. Black colour is the leading subject, a black that is not negative, but full of delicate shades. With it, the painter concentrates on the compositional logic of pieces of monumental poetics. His youth, quite close to the spiritual experience, now emerges to engage with the spirit of Montserrat.

The exhibition Apse is special since it consists of an accurate selection of works of his career including the most recent works, a series which outlines a turn or an interesting derivation in Ribas: a series based on black colour and its contrast with white. They are very powerful pieces that introduce changes and, at the same time, converse with his most famous works, predominantly sensual and colouristic.

“It is both window and mirror. Depending on our state of mind and our essential needs, this type of painting either releases us from ourselves in its infinite, open landscape, or leads us to concentrate intensely on our real selves, stripped of caprices and artificial desires”, confirms Àlex Mitrani.

Ribas’s peculiar use of pigment and the voluptuousness of his works might give us an initial impression that he is essentially a sensual artist. Apse confirms the architectural, monumental and meditative nature of his painting. Some may be surprised by the artist’s latest work, which is centred on the colour black. He does not endow it with moral or spiritual value. There is no topical drama in this black. It is rather a constructive shade, a night that allows light to shine that much brighter. It is neither hard nor opaque. These blacks are atmospheric, hazy, even slightly coloured.

Ribas’s architectonic sense of colour is predominant. There is tension between the space and geometry of his compositions. His irregular yet sure line modifies the limits of the painting, and is one of his peculiar traits. Tracing the line of the frame, it annuls the nature of the border as the space of the other, beyond the painting. Colours appear as self-defined territories, without the need for external frames. Ribas’s line is always chromatic. It cuts, defines, multiplies in large and small areas of pigmentation and colour washes.

Rhombuses, squares and trapeziums are articulated within this space according to a strange and arbitrary logic. Ribas is fascinated by the tangram. Sometimes, elements of this oriental game find its way into his pictures. The new-found overlap between thinking games and the avant-garde does exist. The sole difference lies in freedom and depth, but both appeal to the intelligence and imagination, pleasure and knowledge. Our concentration on the game runs parallel to our aesthetic vision: they are twins. The large chromatic artefacts by Jaume Ribas reveal a sensuality that is at once playful yet solemn. They offer us a respite from the urgencies that surround us. A moment for art, a time for meditation.