Beige Doesn’t Have to Be Boring
During my Block Club residency in Barcelona, my senses were heightened. I was trying new foods and new drinks, and taking in the art, culture, and design of the city. Every day on my travels I’d see something new that would me think a little differently. I thought a lot about how old the city was and how much it had gone through–how the dawn of Barcelona’s graphics boom was a mere 40 years ago, given that, before then, the city was under the Francoist dictatorship. I was trying to take stock in everything in front of me.
On the street, it wasn’t difficult to find inspiration. The architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and the sculptures of Miro are sprinkled throughout the city. The conversations I had about the design work and business strategies with the agencies I visited were not only inspiring, but I found satisfaction in knowing that the work we do at Block Club measures up on a global scale.
Through the barrage of inspiration before me, though, was one artist that that particularly struck me: Antoni Tàpies. Each time I found myself in a museum or gallery, I was drawn to his paintings.
I wish I had snapped more photographs of his works when I was standing in front of them, but I must have been too awestruck. I was more interested in how the works made me feel. And how they reminded me of the city I was then residing in. The paintings I viewed had a drab, sandy beige tone to them and were thick from marble dust. Tàpies has a graphic style that I also appreciated. Some works were marked with wide black or red brushstrokes like a Rothko. The work is edgy and aggressive without hitting you over the head with it, and there is order in all of the chaos. I could see the grid and a mathematical division of sorts to the paintings. Certain quadrants on the canvas were allowed to breathe white (beige) space, while other quadrants are squared off and looked like someone had dragged a stick through the wet sands of the beach, frozen in time.
His paintings felt like Barcelona, in a way, and reminded me of the architecture that surrounded me. I fell in love with how the bright blue Barcelonan sky would contrast with the beige buildings, cutting the landscape in two colors. Blue on top and brown. Those sunny days would shimmer over the buildings and transform their color into golden hues. Like aTàpies, it was unassumingly magical.