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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 7 December 2000

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bulletThe Artist
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Guest Artist: Joan Abelló (Catalonia)

   photo of Joan Abelló
"Jo sóc un pintor del Vallès", explains the Master Abelló. "I am a painter of the Vallès. I am the painter of Mollet. I do not wish to be the painter of Cadaqués, nor the painter of Paris, nor the painter of Poble Sec, nor of Barcelona. I am the painter of Mollet."

Joan Abelló i Prat was born in 1922 in Mollet del Vallès, in this house "full of souvenirs" where he has welcomed us and where we have the honour of visiting with him. The "Casa-museu", or "house-museum" is indeed filled with souvenirs and memories, of the artist's works and of those of his teachers, Mir, Pruna, Pellicer... Portraits and inscriptions signed by Picasso, Miró and Dalí, and photos of the artist with his friends can be seen here and there. Even the painted walls and ceilings themselves are a marvel to look at. Each room we walk through seems to beg to tell us a story, and the artist quickly obliges each time.

It is a divine surprise: Mollet del Vallès, this small town on the outskirts of Barcelona, is the cradle of one of the twentieth century's major painters. He is a discreet man, generous, constantly searching. At the age of 79, he still paints, delivering canvas after canvas in a majestic style that he calls explosivism, which tells us about his philosophy of life.

"Jo sóc un pintor del Vallès." Strong roots are perhaps the key to this prodigious creator, who is nonetheless sharply aware of the world and era in which he lives, as is evident in his work, "Planeta Terra" (1998), a reproduction of which you will find on the cover page, or the fresco entitled, "Història tràgica de l'època que m'ha tocat viure" (1981), which will be included in the next edition of Caravan. It is perhaps his deep roots that allowed him to extend his branches to the whole universe and to embark on a world tour at age 70, in which he travelled to Egypt, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Thailand, and Easter Island -- all voyages that inspired yet more creations. His work has been exposed in London (1969), Paris (1979), New York (1982), and Moscow (2000).

Better than a thousand words, his late journeys expresses the strength of those who know how to cherish their roots, in an era that tends to make us nomadic, yet fails to bestow upon us the time and the wisdom necessary to be so.

Obra 'Oració a l'hort'
Oració a l'hort
(Prayer in the garden)
1966, oil, 250 x 170 cm
Having received his paintings as a donation, the municipality has now opened a museum1 in his honour. It is as fine a museum as any that one might find in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia.

In the old days, "cafés had many tables, each one occupied by a different group of people. There was the merchants' table, the peasants' table, the travelling salesmen's table, the intellectuals' table. In these groups, people discussed right-wing politics, others left-wing politics, others discussed art. After the civil war, this custom was kept up among artists, who are always a bit avant-garde. We started meeting on a daily basis for coffee, in a place called El Glacier in the Plaza Reial in Barcelona. Whether there were eight of us or fifteen of us, the topics of discussion were always literature and paintings. Now, all that is gone because of television and because of the engine of explosion. People no longer meditate, no longer go for walks, no longer know... People just pass through places, barely noticing them. If you mention the terrain of the path on which they have just walked, they will say that they did not notice it. All of this has distanced us from that which is essential: thinking, using our minds, meditating, writing our thoughts, our inner beings, poetry… All that is finished now, like listening to music the way in which it should be listened to."

Much better than a thousand words, the nostalgia and the magic of Master Abelló is communicative and instructive -- a true lesson of life.

Philippe Guirlet

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1 Museu Municipal Joan Abelló (Berenguer III, 122, 08100 Mollet del Vallès (BCN), Spain - Tel: +34.93.593.80.70)

© 2001 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated March 7, 2001.