The exhibition by Àngels Ribé (Barcelona, 1943) at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona
, covers a period of her production from 1969 to 1984. This period is particularly significant for it marks the appearance of a new aesthetic model that would have a fundamental influence on the creation of new ways of conceiving the artistic practice. The associative and symbolic functions of art are renegotiated: the artwork ceases to be an autonomous entity, as was the norm in the modernist tradition, and its meaning becomes dependent on an interchange with the spectator. In this way, the ambiguity and the multiplicity of references and readings that are an intrinsic part of the work of art are revealed. Àngels Ribé, having begun her artistic career at that time and within those parameters, consolidated a language of her own that has continued until today through various supports and media.
In 1969 Ribé moved to Paris, where she began to develop her interest in art. Soon after she was to focus on de-emphasising the object in actions where the inclusion of elements and materials in nature, the work in the space, the presence of the artist's or the spectator's body as narrative elements, and the integration of geometrical forms became a fundamental part of her discourse. Some of Ribé's works are characterised by the use of unconventional materials such as foam, water, light and shadows. In these pieces, the artist plays with decontextualisation. Also important is the artist's interest in things found by chance and in the ephemeral, and in potentiating the narrative possibilities of the environment. During the seventies, Ribé moved to the United States, first to Chicago and a few months later to New York, where she would settle until 1980. In both those cities, she established contacts with the new galleries and exhibition spaces that were then emerging as an alternative to the anachronistic institutional politics and as promoters of an emergent artistic scene.
During those years, Ribé also became interested in performance and installation. In her performances, she no longer seeks to invest the object with an artistic entity; it is the presence of the artist and the spectator that brings a subjective factor to the development of an action in a particular time and space. The aim here is to shift the production of the meaning of the artistic object towards experience, in a process of de-objectualisation of art. It is an attempt to understand the work as something not necessarily durable, to transfer the quality of the artistic object to something immaterial and to negate its objectuality. Ribé's performances are characterised by contingency, by the possibility of one thing becoming another, by the ephemeral.
Other works allow Ribé to enrich her vocabulary and to deal with the intervention of the unconscious and subjectivity in perception, to incorporate conjunctional aspects and the analysis of contradictory information, as well as aspects of her condition as a woman and her personal baggage. Can't Go Home and Amagueu les nines que passen els lladres, 1977, are installations that reflect on the possibility of action, on the contrast between past and future, reality and the dream world, memory and desire. The dual situation that Ribé proposes in these works reveals a personal, feminine, fragmented and stigmatised imaginary, but also a parallelism with the political situation of the country, at a time when it was undergoing a process of construction of the State, precariously articulated between the burden of the recent past and the possibility of a different political imaginary.
At the beginning of the eighties, Ribé started working with a symbiosis of media: sculpture as a support for painting or sculptural painting. The exhibition also presents a selection of drawings from 1984, shown here for the first time, where the wearing out of paint through the repetition of strokes accentuates the feeling of loss and fragility, so frequent in Ribé's work, in marked contrast with some of the paradigms of modernity that favour the durability and monumentality of the artwork.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication including texts by Teresa Grandas, Antoni Llena, Bartomeu Marí and Abigail Solomon-Godeau.