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Ignasi Aballí

Pols (10 anys a l’estudi) ) (Dust (10 years in the study)), 2005

Painting | Mixed media | dust on canvas
50 x 50 cm


One of the core themes of Ignasi Aballí’s work is the impossibility of painting. The artist often associates this research with the notion of traces or remains: the marks left by the sun on the wall of his studio gave rise to a series of ‘paintings’, the imprints of shoes lent against a wall become a reminder of the people who had been in a place, or the dust that builds up on a 50 x 50-centimetre canvas after leaving it untouched for ten years on the floor of his studio.

Ignasi Aballí therefore talks about the impossibility of painting and so he stops painting and stops intervening directly in the resulting object. In other words, he assigns his role to the sun, to a series of collaborators or to time and dirt, all of which leave a trace of their presence. The impossibility of representing occurs in the artist’s place of creation, in his studio, which is also a space of experimentation and reflection. Quite possibly, over the ten years it took for the dust to create “Pols (10 anys a l’estudi)” (“Dust (10 years in the studio)”), Aballí would have spent his time cutting out endless lists from newspapers or methodically covering the surface of a mirror with Tipp-Ex to ‘correct it’, making endless coloured letters, collecting the fluff caught in tumble-dryer drums or maybe letting different types of paint dry.

“There isn’t a solution because there isn’t a problem.” Take Marcel Duchamp for example, who allowed his famous “Large Glass” (1915-1923) to sit on the floor of his studio for several months to get covered in dust. Or Man Ray, who witnessed that external factors formed part of the process in his photograph “Dust Breeding (Elevage de poussière)” (1920). Like Duchamp, Aballí allows dust to complete his works.

Rejecting the often sterile environment of exhibition spaces, Aballí incorporates dust and dirt into his works. He transforms subtlety into opacity and accumulation. In this case, the dust indicates the passing of time, the trace of memory, the impossibility of painting (although not a relinquishment of painting), the critical analysis of his discourses, the need to represent, the incorporation of found objects and materials.

But Aballí’s stance is not an isolated case. In one of his articles titled “Breve historia de casi nada” (A short story about next to nothing) in Barcelona’s Centre d’Art Santa Mònica’s Butlletí # 21 (February 2006), he traces the genealogy of artists who prefer removing to adding, containment to expression, suggesting to saying, absence to presence, the visual to the visible: Yves Klein and The Void, John Cage and his 4’33” of silence, Robert Barry and the “Closed Gallery Piece”, Marcel Duchamp’s silence, etc.

As in Herman Melville’s short story, Aballí is a true Bartleby. Like Doctor Pasavento and other lead characters of books by Vila-Matas, Ignasi Aballí tries to disappear. But he does not do so by trying to be like Walser and cutting himself off from the world. Instead, he disappears from his works, letting them be the sun’s, the dust’s, time’s or any haphazardly found material’s. These are the features of his works. He is a clear example of a “No” artist, whose negation is even more radical because of its lack of show.

Montse Badia 


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