Exposició Temporal

“Josep Royo. Una forma oberta que cau a pes”

02/02/2023 – 28/05/2023


Restoring Royo

Josep Royo (Barcelona, ​​1945) has been recognised as the textile artist who produced a series of monumental works for Joan Miró: the tapestries of Tarragona (1970 and 1972), the World Trade Center in New York (1974) , the National Gallery of Art in Washington (1977), the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona (1979), the La Caixa Foundation (1980) and the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul de Vence (1980). Tons of wool, much of which came out of the old Farinera flour mill located next to the Port of Tarragona.

Royo had collaborated in the production of the so-called sobreteixims between 1972 and 1973, works in which Miró depicted a new version of the death of painting. Those collaborations with Royo were of a technical nature, contributing a total empathy with materials of textile manufacture. A skill learned at Casa Aymat in Sant Cugat del Vallès, where he had studied and worked from a very young age. In the collaborations with Antoni Tàpies, we can find a more radical application of the tapestry legacy. Now it is at the service of a work obsessed with the patina of the object and the ductile nature of textile, such as Armari (Wardrobe) from 1973, full of old clothes thrown together in a disorderly manner.

In parallel with his collaborations, Royo was very prolific on his own. He exhibited at the Joan Gaspar Gallery (1972), at Maeght in Barcelona (between 1975 and 1986), and at Martha Jackson in New York (1979) and at Eva Cohon in Chicago (1982), among others. Examples which position him as one of the undisputed references of the Catalan School of Tapestry, a trend to which other names added themselves, such as Josep Grau-Garriga, Maria Teresa Codina, Dolors Oromí, Aurèlia Muñoz, Maria Assumpció Raventós and Carles Delclaux. However the status of tapestry as a minor genre, a modern conception of the history of art that marginalises technical know-how, as well as the difficulties in preserving textiles, has shifted the focus of interest away from artists like Royo.

This exhibition, produced by the Museum of Modern Art of Tarragona aims to restore the legacy of a work which, viewed retrospectively, positions Royo as someone who absorbed the innovations of modern sculpture. Particularly that of the 1960s and 1970s, among which it is essential to remember the felts of Robert Morris, the Indian fabrics of Robert Rauschenberg and the soft forms of Magdalena Abakanowicz. He was also influenced by the evolutions in painting led by Joan Miró —and those which Royo witnessed directly— and the experiences of the expanded painting attributed to Claude Viallat.

The result was a radical and sensual work, which relives the tradition of tapestry and places it within the sphere of contemporary art. But it was later forgotten. Consequently, undertaking this exercise of restitution with an artist like Royo is not easy. Because we do not know the location of many of his tapestries and because many have suffered irreversible damage. However, almost two years of research have made it possible for us to bring together a significant body of work. With what we have recovered —tapestries, works on paper and documents— we are able to trace an itinerary that transports us from 1963 to 1988. A body of work sufficiently genuine to consider Royo as an artist in his own right. This time without the need to associate him with others.

Carles Guerra