Xavier Barral Altet Professor of Art History. Former General Director of the “Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya”. Member of the “Institut d’Estudis Catalans”.
The Mini Print International Between Internationality and Identity
The Mini Print International is as much an institution in Cadaqués as an originality in Europe. It is a true cultural forum and a meeting place for artists from all over the world. Its particularity is due to the format of the works shown: prints of all types, executed in the most varied techniques but in small dimensions. Each year its success is greater and the confrontations more varied. The Mini Print is undoubtedly the most international periodic event of Cadaqués.
This year 816 artists from 61 countries on the five continents participated. What other Cadaqués or Catalan event can offer so much diversity, so much variety? More than all the biennials and triennials, the Mini Print permits one to capture the evolution of art, to take the pulse of the most daring tendencies, of the aspirations of the young. If, from Catalonia, we want to know what art is currently being done in the new nations that have emerged from the conflicts, the ethnic tensions or the democratizations of former dictatorships, it is very easy to benefit from the enormous effort that went into the organization of this small format print competition of Cadaqués.
The most well known artists exhibit, displaying modesty towards the medium. The youngest, including art students, make their first appearance. The confrontation is complete, very democratic and rich. What dominates? Internationality or the diverse traditions rooted in the natural and cultural origins of each artist? Coming face to face with the works permits the visitors to judge according to their sensibility and knowledge.
It seems to me that we are seeing an exact reflection of the political and sociocultural reality of the time. The aspiration for internationality, for universality merges with a reinforcement of references to individual identity. In the case of the Mini Print, these are translated into the most minute details of each print which ranges, for example, from the technique and way of working to the iconography. Fundamentally, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Cadaqués competition is precisely to see how far and with how much strength these works translate the individual personality of each artist, the collective identity despite exile and displacement, and the substratum, the referential sediment, conscious or unconscious, of the elaboration and artistic progression through the years of each place.
In addition, this year 1997 is a very special year for the Mini Print. Pascual Fort was the soul of the event, and in an intangible way, continues to preside over it, inspiring it and selecting the best works through the point of view, knowledge and fidelity of his widow, Mercedes and his son Josep, transformed into the moving forces of organization, selection and criticism. The memory of Pascual Fort presides over the demand for quality that rules the selection of the works exhibited and admitted to compete. Nobody doubts that part of the succes is due to this. The minimun level of technical virtuosity is so high that it is very difficult to be a member of the jury, given the need for a very attentive, aesthetically informed and specialized observation in order to choose. I was a jury member last year and I can vouch for this.
The memory of Pascual Fort is thus a guarantee of this rigor. The Tarragona Museum of Modern Art has just dedicated an homage to him, exhibiting enamels, prints and reliefs that are a testimony to a life –from 1962 until 1991, the year of his death at the age of 64– of inquietude for a domination of technique and vital artistic and cultural expression. Enamels on copper or iron, etchings, very personal reliefs made from manhole covers in different cities. Imagination and technique, it has already been said, were the two principal characteristics of Pascual Fort’s work as well as of the annual Mini Print International competitions of Cadaqués.
In the Tarragona exhibition we also find the history of the Fort Gallery, open from 1964 to 1973 at Rambla Nova de Tarragona number 3. The more than 40 exhibitions held there form a true history of the evolution of the taste of those times. Someday the story of the Mini Print of Cadaqués will also be written: it will most certainly be important for the knowledge of twentieth century art in a field that is a laboratory of trials, of experiments both technical and formal, of the most minute and scrupulous mutations of art; that which is done for the mere pleasure of creating and not of imitating.
While we await the future balance sheet, look at this catalog. You will find proof of the originality of the year 1997; not only that of the award winners, but also of those who do not deserve to lose. Compare it with previous years. You will realize how history writes itself, as well as how intimately art lives together with events as well as with contficts and even the most local satisfactions. Each catalog reflects the aesthetic of one year. The Mini Print contributes to keeping alive the protagonism of Cadaqués in the art of this century.
Mercedes Barberà Rusiñol Director of the Mini Print International of Cadaques
The 17th Mini Print International of Cadaqués made a new record of participation. 816 artists from 61 countries have sent us their work to form an exhibition of great plastic beauty and artistic interest because of the admirable authenticity of the artists’ forms of expression. If we can note anything special about this latest version it is the increasing number of visits to the Taller Galeria Fort of Cadaqués during the summer by the participating artists from many countries such as the representatives of the print workshop “Il Bisonte” of Florence, Italy, of Koji Ikuta from Japan and of Paiva Raposo from Portugal.
The solo exhibitions of the winnig artists of the previous year’s show are one of the main attractions of visiting the Mini Print in Cadaqués, since the presence of the artists on the opening day of their exhibitions allows for the interchange of technical or artistic ideas or simply of friendly conversation. This year the following artists visited us and acted as jury: Bodil Brems, EsterTurró, Tzvetan Kazandjiev, Francine Simonin and Arvon Wellen. They all left us with fond memories of cooperation and friendship. We missed Ji-Xin Shong who could not make the long trip.
The itinerant exhibitions of 1997 have begun, as always for the past 6 years, in the “Wingfield Festival of Arts” during the months of May, June and July. Ian Chance, its director who visits us every year in Cadaqués, has told us that his dream of transforming Wingfield into an art center is now a reality and that the graphic workshops will be a very relevant part of the project that encompasses all the arts. The Mini Print will be included in the cycle of exhibitions, concerts, installations, happenings, etc.
The presence of the Mini Print in Canet de Mar also seems to be assured. Its promotors are more and more enthusiastic about continuing to hold the exhibition during the month of September because the interest it arouses is increasing, due to – among other things – its continuity. The Galerie L’Etangd’Art in the beautiful village of Bages, France, holds the exhibition during the months of November and December. The inhabitants of nearby towns are accustomed to visit it and many participating artists come to Bages to see the display in which with one of their prints is included.
The continued existence of the Mini Print is due primarily to the Spanish Ministery of Education and Culture’s generous subvention, which this year has completely financed the publication of the catalog. We hereby acknowledge our gratitude to Marina Chinchilla, Subdirector General of Fine Arts’ Promotion. The Catalan Government has helped in the expenses of sending out the entry forms.
Many participating artists send us enthusiastic letters encouraging us to continue. The recognition of so many printmakers from all over the world is the best inducement for continuing to organize the Mini Print International of Cadaqués. In its 18th version we are sure to count on the beautiful works of the participating artists and to give form once again to this admired and awaited exhibition which, as every year, we convoke with great enthusiasm.