Since the early twentieth century Western painting has striven to find experimental methods that would allow pictorial matter to speak for itself. This tradition first emerged during the first avant-gardes of the 1920s with Paris-based German artist Max Ernst's use of frottage (the action of creating effects by rubbing a pencil on paper placed over a textured object) and was continued during the second avant-gardes of the fifties and sixties by such major figures as the French artist Yves Klein (who used the inked human body or rain to impregnate the surface of the canvas) and the renowned German artist Joseph Beuys, magnetizer of elements such as honey or fat, who championed an intimate reconciliation with nature as the means of bring about a profound transformation of the language of art. Fernando Prats, the Chilean artist based in Barcelona since 1990, takes us further along this line with an impressive body of work that incorporates new and deeply personal processes for creating natural paintings. He devised a pictorial system far removed from the instruments of the painter, for the purpose of generating images that would activate the pictorial process in unforeseen ways. His intention was to get away from anecdote and the subjectivity of images created by the artist's hand, and enable a living materiality that would 'give voice to nature'. Since then, his pictorial images are graphic entities that flow directly from the energy of matter itself.
Nature contains within it, as Fernando Prats knows, a never-ending and incomparable model of codes of expression that the artist carries into art, intelligently, with his radical pictorial actionism. Absorbing the marks of nature's behaviors is a way of getting closer to the initial act of creation of the world. The marks 'give [an] image and thus name, define and give meaning,' as he himself observes, to what surrounds us, and can transport us to its initial, original state.
This May, Fernando Prats will bring his world of naturalism to Shanghai at Matthew Liu Fine Arts. This Chilean artist is fully committed to a deeply responsible pictorial work of reactions and transformations of matter, which seeks to bring the spectator into closer contact with the essence of the first forming of the world, born out of 'nothing'.