The exhibition Tàpies: Material Writing is an ambitious survey of the artist's books produced by Antoni Tàpies. Both the show and the catalogue document the artist's career from 1949 to the 1990s, offering an in-depth look at Tàpies's relationship with the written word and how he used it as a plastic element.
The books that Tàpies created in collaboration with poets, storytellers, philosophers and scientists are the culmination of one of the most intense visual qualities of his work: inscription, writing based not on words—although these are often also present—but on any manifestation of the material: the presence of the body in footprints or handprints, the graphics of digits, hieroglyphs, crosses and letters from a non-existent alphabet, signatures, palimpsests, scribbles, etc.
In both the collectors' books and his drawings, Tàpies emphasises the expressive values of material and frequently uses heavily-textured paper (as in Petrificada petrificante [The Petrifying Petrified, 1978] and L'estació [The Station, 1984]), paper that has been violently crumpled and torn (Novel·la [Novel, 1965]) or covered with cross-outs, scrapes and holes (Anular [Cancel], 1981). Forcing materials is an unmistakeable characteristic of Tàpies's working method.