‘There are two types of painters, those who paint what they see and those who embody painting. I identify with the latter.’ (Alfons Borrell interviewed by Radio Web MACBA in 2015.) Borrell's work shows great coherence. Both in his large acrylic canvases and in the graphic work, simplicity and a search for the essential guide his creative work. Colour plays a prominent role. Large areas of colour in dialogue with geometric figures (the square and the rectangle frequently reoccur) frame the space and structure its pictorial abstraction. Space within space, tension between mass and colour, a dialectic between opacity and transparency or the presence of a graphic sign at a point on the canvas, constitute the pictorial language of Borrell.
Over the years, Borrell's painting has undergone a process of extreme simplification, with a palette often reduced to two colours and a very austere composition. The square is a familiar form, alone or duplicated, on a greatly saturated monochrome background; or the outline of a horizontal line, vaguely referencing the idea of a horizon, or a vertical one on a vibrantly chromatic ground. Drawn boundaries and graphic signs are also common elements in the language of this painter: a language whose force is condensed in the use of colour. One of Borrell's colours is orange, which for him represents both sunrise and the beginning of life, but there are also blacks, blues, greens... ‘For Borrell, colour has the quality of an invasive agent. It dyes and invades us as a living and changing substance. In his work, colour is intimately linked to the experience of light. It moves and fluctuates, full of life, along the surface assigned to it by the support. It manifests itself not as a mere quality of an object, but as an autonomous subject. ’ (Oriol Vilapuig, Alfons Borrell. Els treballs i els dies, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, 2015, exh. brochure.)
Borrell belongs to a generation of Catalan painters located halfway between the Informalism of the fifties and sixties and the neo-figurative Transavanguardia of the eighties. A heterogeneous generation that emphasised the essential and colour as vehicles for expression, which also included Albert Ràfols Casamada, Joan Hernández Pijuan, Pic Adrian and Joaquim Chancho.
Alongside his paintings, Borrell has produced a large volume of graphic work on paper: what emerges here is a naked and incisive gesture that confronts us with the void. This holds true for the series of drawings that, since 2010, have been part of the MACBA Collection: Sense títol (Untitled, 1976–79). ‘The renunciation of colour and the use of black and white as the only elements – which appear mostly in the works of the late seventies but also in some of the abstract works of the late fifties – reinforce this more contained, non-evocative attitude.’ (Oriol Vilapuig, Alfons Borrell. Els treballs i els dies, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, 2015, exh. brochure.)
- Original title:
- Sense títol
- Registration number:
- Borrell, Alfons
- Date created:
- Date acquired:
- MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
- Object type:
- Acrylic and pencil on paper
- 16 x 26 cm (height x width)
- MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium. Joan Brossa Fund. Long-term loan of Mercè Centellas. Legacy of Pepa Llopis
- © Alfons Borrell
- It has accessibility resources:
The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.
For more information on the work or the artist, please consult MACBA's Library. To request a loan of the work, please write to colleccio [at] macba.cat.
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