Conversing with Xavier Vilató

The museum, with the exhibition “People”, is one of the five venues of the exhibition-homage “Vilató 1921-2000. Barcelona – Paris. A space of freedom”, that Barcelona is dedicating to this artist. Nephew of Picasso, Javier Vilató kept up a very close relation with his uncle and he was key in the donation process that the artist made to the city of Barcelona in 1970.

Caretell exposició espai "Gent"

Xavier Vilató, curator of the exhibition and son of Javier Vilató, explains to us the how and the why of this exhibition:

“I am very proud that with all the people involved in the project we have managed that Vilató returns to Barcelona and that this exhibition has taken place. […] If I don’t speak Catalan it is just because there has been the path of freedom which meant that I was not born here but was born far away. And this is fundamental to understand everything that we are doing and constructing today.

My great grandfather arrived in Barcelona 117 years ago, with his son Pablo, who was 14 years old, and my grandmother, who must have been 10 years old. During these 117 years, many things have happened and one of them was this museum, amongst others. […] It is very important for me to highlight the fact that many of the works in this museum were the book of images of my father when he was small. All the small boards that are now exhibited and other works were kept in a trunk that was not very big in my grandmother’s house, which my father played with, and this is what he lived and cherished when he was very small, by means of these images he had on the wall, that he had in front of him.

Vilató, my father, constructed a work which was totally made on the side, without bothering the others, with the only intention of being in the studio every day, and each day constructing a work that was the continuation of everything he had been given. He had the great luck of being able to have, with his uncle, a transmission like they have in circus families: how they teach trapeze and how they teach you to feed the elephants […] And today it is a great pride for me that this is understood by the people of Barcelona.

I believe that it is fantastic to add things to this city that it has always had and that has always been welcoming people from outside. But in this case it is not people from outside but people from inside who return, and I think this is fundamental as all the history of Catalonia has been constructed in this way.

Javier Vilató entre quadres al seu estudi

Javier Vilató in his studio of the Boulevard Raspail – Paris, 1989 – Photo: Marianne Torstenson

Artistically, Vilató is really a son of cubism. He already constructed a work that is, well I wouldn’t say anti-fashion, but one that has truly followed a very special and very soft line; he is totally involved in his period, but at the same time he constructs a work that only seems like itself. [..] To be a painter is to always be a painter, always, always, not only in the moment when you’re in the painter’s studio, but this generation were painters when they slept, when they ate, when they loved, that is to say, the painter is at all times someone who lives his or her paintings and this poetic vision of the world, and that now and again they are in their studio bringing all this out.

The title of the exhibition emerged from the idea of doing exhibitions in different venues and to join these venues together the most suitable idea seemed to be that of a path. Furthermore there it is the symbol of the path of freedom, a principle that [Vilató] followed all his life and that also symbolises the work of an artist, that is to say, to follow the path towards freedom. In the case of his generation it wasn’t just a poetic saying but moreover it was a reality in this country in a very strong moment and it was necessary to take the path of freedom to find it. And as there is also this idea of return, of “coming home”, it seemed to us to be very suitable.

In the five venues you will discover the work of Javier Vilató, which is yours, which is your Vilató. Vilató has been discovered and gets discovered again every five years, but this time I believe there is a before and after. This time I believe that it will remain established that Vilató is one of the major Catalan painters with influences from Andalusia and with a Parisian projection.”

Xavier Vilató
Curator of the exhibition “Vilató 1921-2000. Barcelona – Paris. A space of freedom”.

Other exhibition spaces:

“Bronces” – Patio del Museu Frederic Marès

“Bichos” – Espacio Volart de la Fundació Vila Casas

“Cosas” – Sala Dalmau

“En papel” – Galería Joan Gaspar

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