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Theatre (Madrid) | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier
Theatre (Madrid) | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier
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Artists in Barcelona: Meet The Catalan Painter Eduard Resbier

Picture of Helen Bradbury
Updated: 25 June 2016
Soaring monochrome mountains; neon-soaked nocturnal streets; deserted, hap-hazard interiors and expansive seascapes: it is not so much what Catalan painter Eduard Resbier paints, rather how he paints, which gives his work its recognizable style. We explore artistic career so far of the Barcelona native through his paintings and drawings spanning the last few decades.

Resbier has been exhibiting in Spain and further afield since the early nineties. His work, however, does not place him specifically within one place or time, instead we are left with the sense of combined moments of an ‘any place’ at ‘any time’. When Barcelona is featured, it is a Barcelona far from the recognizable picture-postcard, tourist-friendly city many of us know, but rather an under-populated, atmospheric ghost town of ‘in-between’ spaces.

Nocturnal BCN | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier
Nocturnal BCN | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier

It’s perhaps no surprise in today’s hyper-digital world that the images which seem the most real are in fact those which appear as though they are digital images. Photorealism and Hyperrealism refer to paintings that appear to be photographs rather than images as we really see them. Although more painterly, the blur of Resbier’s otherwise realistic painted surface makes the world seem frozen in a moment of motion, and so it refers to photography and film as much as painting. It is, at times, a frustrating experience. We are denied the fine detail to fully render the scene and are left with an approximation, as though looking through a moving window or catching a glance of a screen out of the corner of our eye.

An element of the sinister is created by the fact the viewer cannot fully know what they are looking at, meaning that much remains unknown. In a similar way to the urban landscapes of British painter George Shaw, the sometimes mundane, unpopulated environments become unnerving due to their potential for a narrative that is kept from us. Interior spaces are in black and white or bathed in unnaturally saturated colors, showing light streaming through open doors or rooms populated with randomly combined objects – a piano here, a ladder there. The empty theatre paintings clearly point to the absence of people rather than their presence, making us wonder what could have happened to the audience.

Threshold | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier
Threshold | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier

Similarly deserted, Resbier’s land and seascapes demonstrate an understanding of the force of nature as an absolute. It is rarely quiet and tranquil, with dark, dramatic color schemes. The towering Pyrenees dwarf us while the horizon of seascapes with foreboding skies emphasize our insignificance in the face of a natural world which will outlast us all.

When people do appear in the works they, too, have a sense of foreboding. In the city streets, they are faceless phantoms, little more than a grey smudge of paint. One portrait of a woman sleeping makes us an uncomfortable voyeur in an intimate moment. Another portrait shows us a double exposure of a female wearing a blank expression. It’s as though Resbier is making us aware of the temporary nature of the person’s presence, without giving us any clues to the nature of the person themselves.

Ascension | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier
Ascension | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier

Time is a theme that runs through the work. The blur of a brush dragged over the painted image and the layer of varnish creates the illusion of movement but it also makes it seem as though we are looking back through the faded veneer of memory. Combined, these memories make up random snapshots rather than a full story. Resbier leaves us to fill in the blanks, making the story as much ours as his.

Untitled |Courtesy of Eduard Resbier
Untitled | Courtesy of Eduard Resbier