Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012) would have been 100 years old on 13 December. When he first exhibited at 13 rue de Téhéran in 1967, at the request of Jacques Dupin, he was 44 years old. It was a different time. Censorship still existed in France, Rivette’s film "La Religieuse" was banned, as were a good number of books published by Pauvert or Losfeld; but it was a different matter in Spain, where the artist lived, then under Franco’s yoke, where moral order and the denial of regional cultures reigned. Tàpies’ work was a sharp departure from all that: its materialist vigour, its expressive edge and its insistence on "Catalanness" were disturbing. Not least because his work was permeated by an eroticism that was often underlying, but sometimes brutally expressed. "Implicit/Explicit" was the title of one of his paintings.
Galerie Lelong & Co. had the honour of regularly exhibiting this great artist until his death in 2012, and always showing his most recent works. The gallery then continued to work with the artist’s family, organising various exhibitions. We had never before placed an exhibition under the sign of Éros, of the sexed and fragmented body, of the omnipresent sensuality in his work. Tàpies, a highly cultured artist, was well acquainted with Georges Bataille’s final book, "Les Larmes d’Éros" published in Paris in 1961. There is no doubt that the book’s iconography fed the imagination of this artist, who was a devotee of images drawn from cultures around the world. We have taken the liberty of slightly modifying Bataille’s beautiful title as a gift to Tàpies in the year of his centenary.
"Les Armes d’Éros" presents a group of a dozen paintings on wood and canvas, made up of assemblages of various objects and materials emblematic of the artist’s work: sand, varnish, paint, pencils, etc. They cover the period between 1990 and 2010, the last decades during which Tàpies pursued the formal and material experimentation that had always been at the heart of his practice. They illustrate the aesthetic culmination of his work. Including Gran Triangle, 1990 (285 x 390 cm), "Somier sobre rombe", 1993 (282 x 282 x 9 cm), "Imatge en negre", 1996 (130 x 195 cm), "Boca sobre tors", 2007 (162 x 130 cm), "Mirall de vernis", 2010 (116 x 89 cm), "Matèria sinuosa", 2010 (160 x 160 cm), these works illustrate the artist’s final research in a range of formats, from 60 cm to almost 3 metres. The exhibition was made possible by the exceptional collaboration between the gallery and the artist’s estate. A selection of the artist’s prints will also be on display in the gallery’s bookshop.