MACBA presents an exhibition devoted to the works on paper by one of most influential artists of our time

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MACBA presents an exhibition devoted to the works on paper by one of most influential artists of our time
Lawrence Weiner, untitled (POR SI MISMO), 2001. Staples, watercolor, ink, pencil, gouache on pasted paper, 35.8 x 35.4 cm. Private Collection. Lawrence Weiner, VEGAP, 2013© photography: Courtesy of Moved Pictures Archive, NYC.

BARCELONA.- The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona presents the first monographic exhibition devoted to works on paper by one of the most outstanding artists of the late-20th century, Lawrence Weiner (Bronx, New York, 1942). Written on the Wind comprises an exhaustive survey of Weiner’s trajectory through nearly three hundred drawings produced over a fifty-year period. The exhibition is organised as if it were a drawing itself. Weiner himself created the graphic images for the show, including posters and banners that will be distributed all over the city of Barcelona, occupying the public space. This exhibition presents for the first time an in-depth overview of Weiner’s drawings oeuvre, together with cartoons and notebooks, the origin and base of his entire production. These drawings contain his initial thoughts and ideas that are often gradually transformed into works.

Written on the Wind features drawings on paper, city maps, cigar boxes, wood and other diverse supports. Whilst in his sculpture Weiner uses language rigorously and with maximum objectivity, his drawings are imbued with great creative freedom. Drawing is a medium in which find the artist is at his most approachable. As a result, Weiner’s subjectivity, something he has always attempted to conceal, becomes apparent. The drawings are a way of representing, not only his obsessions, but also the creative context and processes.

Lawrence Weiner was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1942 and lives between the American city and his boat in Amsterdam. He began to study Philosophy and Literature at Hunter College in New York, but dropped out after a year to travel around the United States, Mexico and Canada. A forerunner of conceptual art in the 1960s, he published the following statement of intent: “The artist may construct the work. The work may be fabricated. The work need not be built”. These three forthright yet very simple aphorisms have guided his work ever since, and marked a turning-point in the history of contemporary art. According to Weiner, then, art needs no physical support; it is enough to communicate an idea. He associates drawing with the articulation of thought, two things that meet on the very surface. Lawrence Weiner has always made drawings, but until now no specific study has been made of this oeuvre, which forms an essential, structural medium in his work.

Written on the Wind is a pioneering exhibition that brings together the first time Weiner’s works on paper from the early 1960s to the present. Besides its value as visual material, drawing also provides a direct glimpse of the creative evolution of this artist for whom language is the raw material of art. In the exhibition at MACBA, chronological or thematic organisation is eschewed; rather the gestures with which Weiner infuses his works leap onto the museum walls and accompany viewers throughout the exhibition. The works generate a dialogue between artist and viewer that reveals many of Weiner’s own obsessions, recurring themes, as well as the more intimate processual part that we do not always see in his sculptural work. Whilst in his sculptures the visual becomes a linguistic act, in his notebooks it is the word that creates the gesture.

The exhibition at MACBA presents a large and varied selection of drawings, grouped into two categories: the series, which tell a story in themselves; and materials that, delimit the stories. The works correspond to different periods in Weiner’s artistic career. From the early years, when he painted on cut-up canvases and experimented with different forms of automatic art, to his use of language as the central element in his sculpture, something that – strange though it may seem – actually reinforces the practice of drawing. Written on the Wind features drawings on various supports. Whilst in his sculpture Weiner uses language rigorously and with maximum objectivity, his drawings are imbued with great creative freedom. These drawings include writing, typographic texts, signage, collages, colour, printing and other elements in a dialogue that fluctuates between the precision of the concept and the freedom of the gesture.

In the public space in Barcelona stands the sculpture Mistral, in Avinguda Mistral, commissioned and acquired as part of the sculpture programme that the curator and publisher Glòria Moure implemented in the city in 1986. For its part, the MACBA Foundation acquired the highly significant piece Some Objects of Desire (2004), which has been installed in the Museum atrium since 2009. Very recently, moreover, on February 27th this year, the installation Forever & A Day, produced by ArtAids Foundation, was unveiled at the Santa Caterina market. This bench-sculpture will be there for public use for a year in the market square.

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