Pep Durán
Spain, 1955
Pep Duran is a sculptor and set designer who became known through an exhibition of his work entitled Sabates, held at Espai 10 of the Joan Miró Foundation in 1979. He was soon recognised as one of the most extraordinary artists on Spain’s contemporary sculpture scene. Duran combined his interest in everyday objects with a background in theatre, a field in which he had started working as a set and costume designer in the 1970s. In terms of the principles that oriented his artistic practice, he shared many of the core ideas generated by proponents of New British Sculpture around that time. As critic Manel Clot wrote, the artist articulated a sculptural vocabulary that centred on ‘memory, archives, the idea of the world, the construction of images, the spirit of representation, the place of ideas, the space of material confusion, and the fundamental mechanisms of sculpture constructed based on the principle of collage’. At the end of the 1980s, Duran produced a series of wall sculptures. Akin to large collages, the pieces reflected his interest in materials such as old wood, which offered viewers a glimpse of the functional role they had once performed, and items imbued with an air of nostalgia, such as moulds formerly used to make hats, or a boxing boot that hinted at his admiration for Arthur Cravan. His sculptures also made reference to nature, incorporating woollen blankets decorated with floral motifs. In many of the pieces in this series, Duran also uses an item of clothing, such as a belt, to link various materials and introduce an element of tension, which refers to their industrial and mechanical use. Without doubt, these items are also intended as a nod to the constructions of the Dadaists, and in particular to the work of Kurt Schwitters. In the catalogue for the series, writer Vicente Molina Foix notes the set-like quality the artist lends to his sculptural pieces and observes that Duran’s repertoire of objects and materials is never simply a ‘sentimental gloss on vanished worlds’, but rather ‘a critical and slightly sarcastic reconstruction that stresses the superfluous and highly playful character of the “small world” of artistic production on which the historical vanguard was founded’. Some of the sculptures in the series, along with many others, were eventually reused in a new installation entitled Construir els dies (L’objecte), presented for the first time in 1995. To create this installation the artist used a selection of eighty pieces, which he cut up and rearranged on the floor, as if taking stock of his output as a sculptor. His stated aim was to invent ‘a story about how to make a new body of work with bits and pieces of others’, and in this way to combine his experience of life and art.
Glòria Picazo