Oriol Vilapuig
Valentín Roma, January 2000

In the same way that Borges reduced the human spectrum to two categories, the Plato nics and the Aristotelians, it is also possible to distinguish two kinds of artists: those who need to construct a delimited, archetypal creative space, a place in which to project their image of the world, a distant territoty to enter and leave with the intention of recognising and recognising oneself; and those who are their own uncompromising theme, artists who seem to be driven by an innermost germinal force, and who live as if pursuing the commotions of their own subjectivity.

Two kinds of artists, therefore, or rather two different attitudes: one looking outwards and the other observing the innermost sel£ Two aesthetic procedures that are reconciled in the painting of Oriol Vilapuig, where they form a genuine crucible of images, personages, plastic events and fragments of writing that fluctuate between pure introspection and the alien setting that is the canvas.

The work of Oriol Vilapuig emerges as an authentic drift, a drift in which each picture represents the encounter, happy or exasperated, between the soul and the mind, between the disorderly, chaotic palpitations of the spirit and the indomitable endeavour to endow these palpitations with plastic form. There is no single direction, a definitive style, in his painting; on the contrary, what we observe is a series of thematic cycles like mental reverberations, which scarcely having completely revealed themselves return to the interior, leaving behind them a wake of rapture and authenticity. For the fact is that despite their plastic vigour, despite their ruggedness, Vilapuig's paintings preserve that particular tension characteristic only of what is truly ungraspable, that determination to persist that is revealed, perhaps, as a tenacious flight from moralism.

Behind the works of Oriol Vilapuig one glimpses a vast, global sense of art, a conception in which humour, scepticism, irony, and enthusiasm are generously deployed until they erase any kind of limit. Vilapuig's painting lacks restricting parameters, and it is through this lack of well-defined outlines that the paths are opened that lead to the interior of his work, to its ultimate meaning. Here, in these fragments of life that are his paintings, the artist sketches a possible space of freedom that shakes the gaze of the observer, that .traps it by means of a strange kind of empathy, of solidarity - if I may use this term -, that reconciles it with itself.

Everrthing that may be said about Oriol Vilapuig's painting is in his works, not in a vague beyond out of our reach bur in a here and now, both fleeting and imperishable. The act of contemplating his works (and I have no fear in saying this) is an exercise of liberation, a proposal cast onto the canvas, the materialisation of which affects both the spirit and the mind. These, therefore, are the remains of a vitalist, introspective circuit, fragments of a spiritual state to be reconstructed or, to put this in a better way, relived. Because understanding Vilapuig's painting is in a way to allow oneself to be carried away by a series of impulses that, without being our own, may come to belong to us, and also to define us. Consequently, in order to enjoy these pictures one must appropriate them, take the fury of their personages as our own fury, assume the contradictions of their myths, be Courbet, Dreyer, Zurbaran or Picasso, pursue that restless faun who skips through the artist's universe, and finally, visit his ziggurats of excrement, genuine Towers of Babel, buildings of adobe and dream in which it seems that a scatological Utopia is gestated.

All the painting of Oriol Vilapuig is executed from otherness, and from a kind of nomadism that invites one to become divested of prior knowledge and acquired prejudices, an itinerary formulated not as a moral code or a culturalist route but as a proposal charged with rebellion, with subtle unease, with sensuality. His works are visions of the other, of all the others that inhabit one's self; they are spectres that illustrate the unease of the spirit as it crosses its own territory and how, when it reaches the history of art, this spirit becomes timidly stagnant without pausing in eras, themes or genres.

The history of art, and experience of it, are presented in the artist's oeuvre as an agent provocateur, which triggers off emotional and plastic situations that drift towards other places of expression. It is not a question, therefore, of reinterpreting the past, of an erudite revision, but rather of an almost physical reaction, a stimulus with which the painter builds a kind of mythical, anecdotal memory, both turbid and clear, brutal and refined; a memory that belongs to nobody, and yet in some way it belongs to everybody; a genuine global biography through which we feel admitted into his painting. Hence, when Vilapuig depicts Courbet or Ingres, when he names Picasso or Watteau, he speaks of himself and also of us, of the fascination these artists exerted on him, of the paradoxes of their quests, of their lives. On the other hand, he also refers to a toponymy of names inscribed in our own past, in our collectivity.

In the same way, the texts that appear in Oriol Vilapuig's canvases move away from simple meaning to become plastic writing, a telluric word through which irony filters and in which thought, that thought from which the plastic quality of his oeuvre seems to be far removed, acquires a different dimension. They are texts born from the vigour of his images, which contradict or amplifY them, that distract or enlighten the observer's gaze, that emerge in his canvases to create areas of inflection. Veritable semantic geographies, they are presented as secrets in the interior of the canvas, a kind of black box recording partial perceptions, frayed contradictions, doubts that assail the artist as he works, doubts that he not only refuses to dismiss but which he incorporates into his finished paintings.

Lastly, we should also examine the personages that people the canvases of Oriol Vilapuig, that micro-community of faces and figures who are the genuine inhabitants of the painter's plastic universe. This gallery of resuscitated artists, of sceptical fauns, of inward-looking monks, and of inclined heads constitutes an interminable frieze of changing physiognomies, of images in which the otherness that characterises Vilapuig's work crystallises. Brutal in their expressiveness and in their way of manifesting themselves, the personages born in Vilapuig's canvases are articulated around a possible human model; they are feverish contraptions, obsessive recipients of existence that torrentially express the impulse towards fantasising the life of man. These personifications of the soul inhabit a disturbing, implausible space, formed by turbid textures of colour, gestures diluted into the limits of the painting, dream and real-life landscapes, both sublime and scatological.

However, it is neither in the history of art, nor in the written word, nor in his suggestive personages that the true dimension of Oriol Vilapuig's painting is to be found, a painting that despite its strikingly plastic quality is the outcome almost of an act of frankness, like the barely suggested confession of immemorial wisdom, a knowledge that has survived secretly in the world of intelligence, of the art of living, or simply of art. The mystery of these works, their generous vehemence, their irresistible beauty, lies in the fact that they show us that the most unfathomable, most perturbing abyss is not others but ourselves.