Frederic Amat
Spain, 1952
Frederic Amat studied architecture and painting in Barcelona and learned set design from Fabià Puigserver. He embarked on his career at time when conceptual approaches were in vogue in Catalonia (from 1968 on), but his interest in the object and the metaphorical plasticity of material kept him from embracing this trend. Based on the principles of Art Informel, he transformed the drawn image into a tangible object, and in 1972, during what became known as his ‘black’ period, he executed a series of interventions on monochrome spaces, expressing the dialectical tensions between life and death. In the mid-1970s he began to produce fabrics dyed with natural pigments, manipulating pieces of cloth in various ways (sewing, cutting and folding them, and so on) and then hanging them or incorporating them in paintings. He also gave new corporeal properties to drawings by using handmade paper and richly textured paperboard. This aspiration to achieve a comprehensive living physicality gave rise to the pieces he created for Acció Zero and Acció U, actions that took place at Barcelona’s Sala Vinçon in 1976. In these works, human bodies—oppressed and mutilated—engage in a struggle of poetic abandon, breaking through torn textile spaces like chrysalises striving towards new stages of freedom. Amat’s extended stays in Mexico and Morocco and journeys to Brazil, Egypt and Haiti, which he undertook until well into the 1980s, allowed him to assimilate elements of ancient cultures and tap into primal regenerative forces. Drawing on this source of energy and inspiration, he found new ways to explore the alienation from reality which early in his career had led him to follow in the footsteps of Antoni Miró, Max Ernst and Henri Michaux. Drawing and painting became the channel for exploring his interest in the anatomy of things (branches, reeds, dried fish, stones, lizards, bones, turtle shells and so on). He also exploited the transparency of gauzes and tarlatans in offering-paintings—zoomorphic collages in which all the constituent elements seem part of an enigmatic ceremony or the dense atmosphere of a perfect party. The result is materialised in the unsettling presence of striking, obsessive forms—mythic images that drown in their own magmatic presence, suffocate in passion, and become the outward expression of an inner cry. Reality and fantasy, freedom and oppression struggle together in mysterious works that immerse us in symbolic evocations and secret exits from the depths of dream, sex, life and death. For the artist, red is a clear metaphor for the vicissitudes of human becoming. Amat is a multimedia artist who has produced photographs and films with a markedly painting-like character. He has also created many sets for dance and theatre groups. In 1986 he worked with Fabià Puigserver on the set design for El público, a play by Federico García Lorca, and over decades he has produced a substantial body of work on Lorca’s poetic universe that is characterised by a strongly elegiac tone. In 1998 he adapted and directed the film production of the original script for Viaje a la luna, written by the poet in 1929 during a stay in New York. He has also created significant interventions in urban spaces, such as Fosas (2009), a temporary garden project carried out at Bilbao’s Uribitarte Quay, next to the Museo Guggenheim, and Pluja de Sang (Rain of Blood), executed in the stairway of the Teatre LLiure in Barcelona’s Gràcia district—a project that marked the reopening of the theatre in 2010 and sought to highlight the difficulties facing the performing arts.
Teresa Blanch