Txomin Badiola’s works in the “la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art cover a period of about ten years, artistically the most intense of the sculptor’s already fervent activity; his first individual exhibition was in 1981. In spite of their conceptual differences—which are greater than their formal similarities—Coup de dés and Twins IV (Plus One) belong to what we might call sculpture integrated into the formal evolution which sprang from the 20th-century avant-gardes and post-avant-gardes. From his particular interpretation, Badiola has linked himself to Constructivism and Suprematism and, more critically, to American Minimalism. That lineage includes his series related to Kazimir Malevich’s black square and Vladimir Tatlin’s reliefs. But we should remember that in Badiola there are no vestiges of the Russians’ revolutionary optimism, nor is there any formalist observance of their ideas; just the opposite: there is disillusion which, nevertheless, does not shun artistic commitment and the subversion of languages. Coup de dés, of which there is a second version—Coup de dés 2—takes its title from a poem by the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé: Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard (A throw of the dice will never do away with chance). This table, with its unstable balance, sloping surface and open cubic volumes, corresponds closely to the interpretation Simón Marchán offers of the invocation of the title: “In fact, in his sculpture Badiola is only cultivating that metaphor of Mallarmé’s about the throw of the dice as a linguistic game. […] Through that procedure he hints at the emergence of a postmodern aesthetic space between the autonomous form and everyday objects, between their nature as thing and their artistic transfiguration.” Twins IV (Plus One) destroys and dismantles the very syntax of avant-garde sculpture that belongs to the heritage of Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Julio González or the Russian Suprematists. In the words of Julia Boldini, they are “hyper-abstract outlines of what (Badiola’s) sculpture procedure had been in recent years.” The installation in which the pieces were exhibited also contained a major set of drawings and paintings on paper, which remind us of his origins as a painter, and at the same time showed a complete repertory of his civic, political and human concerns. The exhibition was provocatively entitled ¿Quién teme al arte? (Who’s Afraid of Art?). In an interview published in 1986, Badiola stated: “Memory in sculpture is one more memory of art, and in painting memory is more of the life or psychology of the person who does it.” Badiola is a sculptor who has used the paradox involved in arranging his works on the wall on countless occasions. The complete series that Twins IV (Plus One) belongs to—taken individually, in isolation, the pieces recall school desks—has an industrial air, a feeling of mass production, and, at the same time, with calculated ambiguity, something of the prototype, like the furniture of Rietveld or Le Corbusier. Like those designers, Badiola is seduced by the small difference, or a minimal, human flaw. Of the brilliant contrasting colour he says: “It functions merely as a call, to draw attention. The colours are not abstract in the psychologist sense of the Bauhaus, nor expressive, nor even metaphorical as a reference to an industrial world; they are purely strategic. They restrict themselves to catching the eye.” The pieces belonging to this series were part of the installations Badiola did at the monuments erected in Parade Gardens—which he called The Peacemaker—as well as in Queen Square—Symmetrical Piece—and in Mad Eli’s Courtyard—Mad Eli’s Piece—as guest artist at the 1990 Bath International Festival Exhibition.
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