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  • Writer's pictureChiara

Palimpsest

I came across the idea of a palimpsest while studying the work of Antoni Tapies a couple of years ago. Traces of the past remain embedded in the surface of a manuscript, despite attempts to scrape the surface clean. The inherent history of the document is inescapable. In archeological work, these past stories can be somewhat recovered. My interest is in trauma rather than archeology, but the two are clearly related at this point.

Tapies' work is intimately involved with the fight for Catalan independence and the trauma and conflict of the Spanish Civil War. The Hands (Les Mains) is a powerful example.


Of course, materiality is central to his work. Here the large red area is produced through the transfer of ink held by a mass of carborundum grit on the printing plate. The hands themselves are etched soft-ground imprints.


To think about: even though the hands here are not photographic, the immediacy of their effect is made highly realistic through the use of a direct impression of the body on the soft-ground surface. The artist has literally left his fingerprints all over the work.

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