ARCHIVE / 2014 / Texts

Patricia Gabancho
Journalist and writer

A Love Story

Like many artists, Pascual Fort was an autodidact, although with a solid foundation as a jeweller, a profession that gave him artistic pleasure and knowledge of diverse materials. Finally, Fort leaned towards two combined activities: artistic – through printmaking and enamel, which he researched until he discovered all their implications – and that of gallery owner – which put him in contact with established artists and critics and which permitted him, at the same time, to open doors for those who were just beginning. One day he asked himself: how can I know what other artists like me are doing in other parts of the world? It’s a good question. The ways of art cross in unknown dimensions and everywhere there are echoes of trials and discoveries made thousands of kilometres away. And what if someone, on the other side of the world, is doing the same as I am, he asked himself. And what if someone is doing it much better? And what if someone has found the solutions that I am seeking? Artist’s questions require artist’s answers.

Pascual Fort decided that it would be the creators themselves who would explain their researches. He convened the I Mini Print International of Cadaques, a worldwide prize for small format prints. It was 1981. Fort and his wife had passed time in New York. He had won some important prizes there and had contacts and addresses. It seemed impossible to create an international prize in a still not globalized or Olympic Barcelona, nor in a brilliant and solitary Cadaques. But said and done, and thick envelopes began to arrive with tiny printed works, like minute windows open to infinite universes. Light works that can travel by airmail, without bureaucratic complications of crating or insurance, and which can be shipped with a gesture. Almost 500 works arrived for the first competition and it is easy to imagine Pascual Fort eagerly retracing the paths of his colleagues, passing his fingers over the magic pictures elaborated by those distant alchemists.

Ten years later, in 1991, Pacual Fort died suddenly, as the miniprints of that year were being packed for shipment to an exhibition in the United Kingdom. His wife Mercedes Barberá, with the weight of the world suddenly on her shoulders, telephoned the organizer of the British exhibition. She told him what had happened and asked “What should I do?” “Do it” he replied. Do it? Then yes, we will do it. Mercedes Barberá clenched her fists. We will do it it, which means I will do it. A legacy is a commitment, until now and beyond. Mercedes was simply being faithful to her own life, to memories, to this task shared, second by second: the husband through art and she through enthusiastic support and precise work. She is a small and sweet woman with lively eyes.

The Mini Print International of Cadaques is, therefore, a story of love, of love and of success. In the current show 740 artists from 56 countries participated. It’s easy to say. Artists obliged to compress their vision of the world, their concerns, their digressions into a square space measuring 10 x 10 centimetres. It seems as if, like spectators, we approach a sample of complex fabric placed under a microscope, because these small images provoke emotion, sensations and reflection, but it is we who have to construct the world that they contain from this fragment that is shown to us. I look at the 6 winning prints of this show and see very diverse intentions: the organic texture in the fields of Hortensia Perez Cuenca; the serenity after anguish, or before it arrives of the Japanese Yasuko Tachi; but why did he make me think of anguish if it is a light-filled image? But if I keep playing and looking, I encounter time detained and therefore eternal in the defiant yet serene cliffs of the Irishman Aidan Flanagan, and I discover that the most realistic print ends up being the most metaphysical. And what can I say about the mystery contained in Irene Podgornik’s block? Or that declaration of authority – is it authority or just an urban fragment – that extends underneath Rosemary Mortimer’s print that suddenly appears to me to be a criticism of the contemporary world? And is Tanya Yordanova’s burnt forest really so?

It is impossible to hold onto an image’s content and the Mini Print multiplies them up to a thousand, or almost, in every new show. The competition is internationally established, it is a benchmark. It has precise rules: the winners of one year are the jurors of the following year. It is a self-perpetuating, perfect cycle like the wheel of the world in the millenary tarot cards. Behind this competition set in Cadaques there is a task like that of busy bees: a task made within a family by few hands.

Thirty three years after Pascual Fort’s first enlightenment, Mercedes Barberá is the depository of a collection encompassing the best international prints: the winning works from each of the yearly competitions. It is a collection, by the way, that our institutions should examine carefully because this decades-old effort is now an intangible national heritage. It would be necessary, therefore, to formalize this property giving these works a permanent home and exhibition space. So be it.

Mercedes Barberà Rusiñol
Director of the Mini Print International of Cadaques

From its very beginnings the principal motivation for the creation of the Mini Print was to promote and disseminate the knowledge of printmaking in all its aspects, both technical and creative. In spite of being an ancestral artistic technique, practiced by great artists of all times, it seems relegated to a secondary status without receiving the recognition that it deserves. To fight for its survival must be our determination, and I am pleased to be able to say that the number of collectors and visitors that admire the exhibition increases in geometric progression.

From the end of June through September the exhibition in the Taller Galería Fort in Cadaques has received visitors from the five continents. This fact moves and comforts us, without ever forgetting that the success is primarily due to the quality of the exhibited works.

This summer, motivated by their solo shows, Paolo Pestelli (Italy), Beverly Ashcraft-Johnson (U.S.A.), Tomoko Ogoshi (Japan), and Daniel Zerbst who lives and has his studio in Cadaques visited us. Each one performed the difficult task of juror for the present show. We passed very agreeable and communicative moments with all of them. We regret the absence of Darko Dugandzic and Martha Theresa Kerschhofer who were unable to travel to Cadaques. Their interesting exhibitions attracted many visitors as well as the attention of the local press.

Coinciding with Cadaques the Mini Print was also shown in Wingfield Barns (U.K.). Ian Chance deserves recognition for organizing its continued presence in this cultural centre during so many years.

The Tharrats Foundation of Graphic Art in Pineda de Mar (Catalonia) presented the Mini Print in October and November. Its closeness to Barcelona and surrounding villages makes it easy to visit for many people. We are grateful to its Mayor, Xavier Amor for his interest in maintaining the exhibition.

Gallery L’Etangd’Art in Bages (France) housed the show from the middle of November to the middle of January. The fact of being able to visit the gallery during the Christmas holidays permitted many participating artists, collectors and Mini Print fans to attend. They were received by Sophie Cassard with her extraordinary friendliness and charm.

After so many years of existence the Mini Print is still full of life and hope. The participation of the faithful, the sporadic and the first time artists shows that our efforts are not in vain and that, thanks to their interesting and creative works, future exhibitions will continue.

I am sure of it and this is my greatest wish. Many thanks!