Josep Navarro’s Formless Matter Painting: A Unique Language

The Josep Navarro Vives Archive
Nov 12, 2016 8:41AM

The formless matter painting that Josep Navarro explored in Paris and London and with the Barcelona School introduced a new artistic dimension in his work.

During this creative period, investigating with matter provided painters with a powerful means of expression. Like Tàpies, Cuixart, Millares and others, Navarro discovered that gesture and experiments with matter could be used to mirror personal states of mind.

Subjectivity was the hallmark of the aesthetic response of many of these creators, who turned art informel into a trend essentially noted for its rich variety of expression.

As one example of the matter solutions discovered during this period, Tàpies began to mix colours with marble dust, which he then ground into the surface of his medium. Another line of expression can be found in the work of Cuixart, who was renowned for modelling the surface with pastes made out of different types of matter.

In a similar way to the sacking used by Millares, Josep Navarro created his first formless works with rags, bits of cardboard and natural pigments with salt, all impregnated with paint, which he then glued to the canvas.

This technique lends his pictures a materiality and tangible relief that accentuate the sensation of movement. Sometimes, the matter is concentrated in specific parts of the canvas; at others, it dominates the entire surface of the canvas. Navarro plays with varying degrees of thickness and the effects of the paint, with matter and colour.  Despite the distinctive material quality of these creations, a strict balance dominates the composition.

During this period one of the key characteristics that would mark Navarro’s entire career emerged: his highly personal colour range.

Blues, greens, reds, yellows, browns and ochres can all be found in his material palette. His investigations with matter reached their pinnacle with the Puertas [Doors] series. Josep Navarro had found a way to recover form based on matter.

The Josep Navarro Vives Archive