ARCHIVE / 2015 / Texts

Albert Mercadé
Historian and art critic

Printmaking in the XXI Century

Printmaking is one of the highest expressions of our civilization. It burst into the order of the arts belatedly, but its entry was revolutionary, permitting the popularization of the always haughty artistic genre. From its popular growth, the different varieties that emerged in modern times helped to decisively transform the most advanced European art. Etching permitted the dissemination of the most clandestine and premonitory dreamlike visions of Goya or Rembrandt; the Japanese ukiyo-e brought new ways of picturing the world to the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists; the medieval German woodcut provided the German Expressionists with new expressive resources; lithography brought new flat and communicative tonalities to the Art Nouveau artists; and serigraphy contributed to the expansion of Pop Art. But what does it mean to make prints in the 21st century?

Certainly the emergence of the postmodern era – vaporous, liquid, and conceptual – has devastated those arts most closely linked to the physical world and to craftsmanship – to the benefit of a cognitive world of ideas. So, we have to define printmaking in the 21st century – like painting or sculpting – as an occupation of resistance, and those who defend and propagate this art as resisters, as the founders and defenders of the Mini Print International of Cadaques deserve to be treated. Both Pascual Fort and Mercedes Barberá understood that, certainly, in the seventies it was a minority art little recognized by the high artistic authorities, but on the other hand it was silently and intimately practiced by a large number of first rate artists. And this is probably true because it was and is an art that in practice brings large formative and cognitive properties to the craft and a physical contact with the work.

In a virtual and vaporous world there is a great hunger for spatial and tactile experience, which is a decisive stage for the real experience of knowledge. The artisan origins of printmaking and its manual perseverance maintains the creator, past and present, firmly attached to the work and to the physicality of the world; its communicative nature humanizes the arts and consequently civilizes the artist and reality. And ultimately, the reduced dimensions that the technique demands even today, stimulates the cultivation of artistic humility, in a healthy exercise of condensed experimentation.

Proof of this reality is the always successful convening of the Mini Print competition: more than 190 printmakers took part in the first edition of 1980, and in recent years the number has always been around 700. A total of more than 9,000 artists have participated including such renowned creators as Tharrats or Narotzky, and it always has had the sincere support of artists such as Rafols Casamada or Antoni Llena, and of the country’s major art critics such as Daniel Giralt-Miracle, Corredor Matheos and Arnau Puig who are aware of the remarkable endurance of the competition, which brings together the greatest number of printmakers worldwide. Every year the Mini Print receives proposals from the four corners of the earth and convenes all the different varieties and types of prints that exist and that will exist, from the most traditional to the most experimental, such as the electro print or the digital print. The event is intentionally eclectic, but creative dissipation never reigns. Rather, we always find the calming dose of order, taste and quality that makes this unmissable summer event a placid, cosmopolitan and enriching art festival.

Mercedes Barberà Rusiñol
Director of the Mini Print International of Cadaques

For 35 years the Mini Print International of Cadaqués has offered the visitor an extensive panorama of the different printmaking techniques that artists all over the world currently use to freely express their diverse and imaginative ideas. This allows thousands of spectators in Cadaqués, Pineda de Mar, Wingfield and Bages to enjoy a visual and aesthetic knowledge that is difficult to repeat.

This year, for its 15th anniversary, the art magazine Bonart has granted various prizes in recognition of artistic trajectories of success and commitment. The Mini Print has received an award for the promotion of printmaking during more than three decades from Cadaqués and Barcelona to the world with an innovative and plural cross-border spirit. We are grateful to the editors Anna María Camps and Ricard Planas for the attentiveness with which they always publish news about the Mini Print, and especially and with much emotion, the concession of this cultural prize, given the importance and repercussion of Bonart in Catalunya. It has known how to value the significance and continuity of the Mini Print International of Cadaqués and what it represents in Catalan culture. We want to put this recognition on record in the name of all the artists who have participated throughout so many years, of the galleries all over the world that have welcomed them, and of the organization that receives, with this prize, a boost of morale and optimism which encourages us to strive to successfully continue the Mini Print International of Cadaqués. Thank you!

The solo shows of the previous year’s winners have, as always, aroused much curiosity in our Cadaqués gallery. This summer the artists Aidan Flanagan of Ireland, Tanya Yordanova of Bulgaria, Yosuko Tachi of Japan, Irene Podgornik Badia of Italy, Rosemary Mortimer of New Zealand and Hortensia Pérez Cuenca of Spain visited us.

The presence of the artists at their openings leads to an intense communication about the knowledge of their techniques and the artistic and creative motives that make them possible. They all have left us a taste, including gastronomic, of their countries.

The Mini Print International has travelled to the Wingfield Barns art centre in the United Kingdom thanks, as always, to the interest shown by Ian Chance. There the exhibition is eagerly awaited, visited and praised in the media.

The Mini Print International of Cadaqués was also exhibited, as it is every year, in the Tharrats Printmaking Foundation with the approval of the Pineda del Mar City Hall and the special interest of its mayor Xavier Amor. The show in the Foundation – which is located in the Maresme, the coastal region that hosts many interesting printmaking workshops – is visited by the inhabitants as well as by many of the participating artists.

From the middle of November to the middle of January the exhibition is received by L’Étangd’Art Gallery in Bages, France where it is much visited because it coincides with the Christmas holidays. The prestige of the gallery, directed by Sophie Espagno-Cassard honours us with its collaboration.

As always, I would also like to express my admiration and appreciation to the participating artists who are the principal authors of the cultural adventure that is the Mini Print International of Cadaqués.

All together we will achieve it again. We await you!