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Tàpies combined paint with dust, resin and other materials to create rough, densely worked surfaces, a technique that he called ‘matter’ painting. He compared his sombrely coloured paintings to the weather-worn, heavily marked walls of the streets in his native Catalonia, which seemed to bear witness to the sufferings of the Civil War and the repressions of life under General Franco. The critic John Russell described these works as ‘not so much painted as excavated from an idiosyncratic compound of mud, sand, earth, dried blood and powdered minerals.’

July 2012