Joan Rabascall (Barcelona, 1935) studied at the Escola Superior d’Arts Decoratives Massana, Barcelona, and at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-arts in Paris, where he has lived and worked since 1962. In the sixties, he was in contact with the critics Lawrence Alloway and Pierre Restany, and with the Independent Group in England and the Noveaux Réalistes in France, both of which strove to recover techniques of representation as well as aesthetic and ethical positions close to Berlin Dada. He collaborated in the ‘ceremonial actions’ organised in 1969 and 1970 by the group of Catalan artists based in Paris, and which included Miralda, Benet Rossell and Jaume Xifra. Although initially working with collage, he soon incorporated photomontage and assemblages of images and objects into installations and photographic series. In his work, Rabascall critiques the mediated image and the lifestyle imposed by the media. Using iconography and texts from the mass media, he highlights their implicit manipulation. One of the most recurring elements in his work is the medium of television approached from multiple perspectives: as an icon, object, souvenir, sculpture, element of communication and fetish. He has often worked on series or groups of works with a common subject. In the eighties, he began a conceptual reflection on painting and, later, on the concept of landscape and its role in the new ecological paradigm. Overall, Rabascall’s work takes a critical look at the everyday mythologies of the present.
He participated in the biennales of Paris (1965 and 1969) and Venice (1972 and 1976). Although he has exhibited regularly in France from the 1970s, apart from inclusion in some exhibitions such as Spain is Different in 1976 at the G gallery, Barcelona, it was not until 1985 that he began exhibiting in Catalonia, when he participated in Paris-Barcelona-New York at the Palau Robert, Barcelona, and in projects presented at La Virreina (1993) and the Centre d’Art Santa Mònica (2000). Rabascall has exhibited in Paris (Centre Georges Pompidou, 1994, 1996 and 2001, and Grand Palais, 2006); New York (Thread Waxing Space, 1994); Tokyo (Museum of Contemporary Art, 1996 and Metropolitan Art Museum, 2000); Madrid (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2005 and 2006); and Bremen (Neues Museum Wesserburg, 2002), among others. In 2009, MACBA held a retrospective focused on the years 1960–80. His work is in collections such as the Musée national d’art moderne, Paris; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Bogotá; the National Libraries of Paris and Madrid; National Museum, Warsaw; and MACBA, Barcelona.