Arranz Bravo Foundation: 5 years

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Since it first opened its doors in September 2009, the five-year history of this foundation is
one of resistance, action, cooperation and passion for contemporary art. That is why we want
these first words to be words of thanks to the many artists, critics, collectors and institutions
that have given their cooperation to our project over this time. First and foremost, to the
more than fifty-five artists who have placed their talent at the service of an exhibition, an
educational project or a public artwork. Secondly, the public authorities —L’Hospitalet
City Council and the Government of Catalonia—for maintaining their financial support,
particularly during the most critical moments. We should also like to give special thanks to
the many national and international collectors of Arranz-Bravo who have helped us, year after
year, from a distance of over ten thousand miles, and to the businesses and entrepreneurs
of L’Hospitalet that have also helped to open up contemporary art to the city over the last
few years. Last but not least, we thank Eduard Arranz-Bravo and the artist Miquel Gelabert
for their energy and professionalism, the twin hallmarks of this foundation, those who work
at the centre, Natàlia Arranz, Rosa Maria Inglés, Artur Muñoz, Marta S. Nacera, Xavier
Gil, and the interns Georgina Parrilla, David Roca and Bernat Puigdollers.

Right from the start, the foundation reflected on the role of contemporary art in society.
Whether it is feasible, necessary, opportune. What can new art bring to the community?
What cultural service can the work of an artist like Arranz-Bravo in L’Hospitalet perform?
What role can we play as a gallery within the machinery of contemporary art in our country?
In order to answer all these questions, we needed to recover and conceptually interpret
the basic core of Arranz-Bravo’s work and to display it through a forceful and meaingful
museum programme. We began our approach to the artist’s work by first attending to the basics,
that is to say, organising, conserving and communicating what is the cornerstone of the
foundation: the more than 400 artworks donated by Eduard Arranz-Bravo to the city. We
were able to study and catalogue these whilst preparing the first two major exhibitions at the
Tecla Sala Cultural Centre, staged during the period prior to the opening of the foundation
itself. These shows were Arranz-Bravo. The Collection (2007), the largest ever devoted to this
artist, and Engravings from the Collection (2009), which later travelled, thanks to the support
of Barcelona Provincial Council, to the towns of Centelles, Martorell, Ripollet, Sallent, Sant
Just Desvern, Sant Feliu de Llobregat and Caldes de Montbui. Part of the collection was
also shown in 2011 at the Barradas Auditorium, in an austere exhibition at the entrance
to this centre in Rambla de Just Oliveres in L’Hospitalet.
Parallel to these initial general exhibitions, the foundation also worked and presented shows,
year after year, devoted to the various disciplines in which Arranz-Bravo’s art has found
expression: painting, artists’ books, drawing, engraving, mural painting and so on. Moreover,
in 2010 we also opened the Arranz-Bravo Centre for Documentation and Research on
the top floor of Tecla Sala Central Library. This study centre contains over a hundred books
and catalogues on the artist, complementing the more than 4,000 volumes that make up
the library resources. This is, without doubt, an outstanding research centre for all students
of contemporary art. We were fascinated by two central ideas in
Arranz-Bravo’s art. Firstly, the liberating pulse of contemporary art. If we had to find adjectives
to describe the work of Eduard Arranz Bravo, we would choose such words as forceful,
visceral, organic and artistic tension. We believe that our artist is one of the leading representatives
on the Peninsula not only in contemporary art, but also in art history generally, from
Altamira to the art of Picasso, Miró, Hamilton and the American and German figurative neoexpressionism of the eighties.

Our original idea was to link this aesthetic principle with the newest art emerging in our
country. To help artists taking their first steps in the art world through artistic forcefulness
was and is Arranz-Bravo’s driving obsession, as he seeks to reproduce the support that he
received from the Sala Gaspar art gallery when he was just 24 or the work that Joan Miró performed at the foundation designed by Sert. However, we had to blaze our own trail in this
respect, find our niche, makes ourselves necessary within the structure of contemporary
art in the country. All this, as we announced, revolved around a clearly-designed specialisation:
contemporary art. Under this name — one worthy of Alexandre Cirici Pellicer— we
seek to offer today’s art scene a professional, quality platform that focuses on a segment of
the arts that is very much alive but has not been given appropriate channels for expression
over the last two decades in which the institutions have played a markedly iconoclastic
or discursive tune.
Visiting art schools in the country and elsewhere —without territorial limits— in search
of painters, sculptors, engravers, video artists, performers, who took aesthetic forcefulness
as their basic approach to art. Art as the starting point, but never the end point, of our
projects. Art at the sweet spot between empty decoration and tedious conceptualism. We
needed to find those artists who channelled that pulsing energy, and from there to start
working on projects: conceptualising the work with young curators from our country (Irina
Mutt, Sandra Martínez, Bernat Puigdollers…) as well as those with more experience (Àlex
Mitrani, Sílvia Muñoz, Eudald Camps); producing publications and catalogues for distribution
to libraries, art centres and figures from the world of culture; and opening up to initiatives
by practitioners of other artforms: synergies with dance (Laura Calvet), experimental
music (Joan Bagès), ritual music (Batucada de les Arts), performance (Diego Tampanelli,
Edgar Ibáñez, Jenny Owens), thought (Rafael Argullol, Gep21)…

A second thing that fascinated us were Arranz- Bravo’s ideas about street art and the social
structure that art can provide. Arranz-Bravo created L’Acollidora [“The Welcomer”] and the
Bridge of Freedom, public works in L’Hospitalet that transmit a message of engagement: the
host city, the city that defended freedom during the Franco dictatorship. But Arranz-Bravo
also painted the outer walls of the Tipel factory in Parets del Vallès with Rafael Bartolozzi; and
he created the performances in Cadaqués and the art parades in Granollers. In everything,
he placed painting at the service of men and women; painting as an expression of communion,
celebration and subversion. Consistent with this principle, we have constantly
attempted throughout all these years to interpret these ideas through the deployment
of the arts in L’Hospitalet: at schools, in squares, at openings and through education.
The first natural result of all this was the establishment of the FAB Education Service.
The educators Anna Pou and Artur Muñoz organised workshops —we were clear about
this from the very start— on the experience of painting and its relationship with other arts:
music, philosophy, literature, etc. Over the past five years, more than one hundred and
fifty groups of pupils have been able to experiment for themselves as part of our workshop/
visits. Our guests include schools and associations from our city, such as the Ítaca Foundation.
The second step was to establish an introductory course to art for schools in L’Hospitalet.
We realised that we needed to leave the museum, to go to school, to work with teachers,
bring the artist to the pupils. We were aware that schools suffer from serious shortcomings
in the field of art, but that these failings are less pronounced in students than in teachers, who understand the subject as copying or developing technical skills. Hence the “Come to
Art” programme. Created in cooperation with the art educator and designer Artur Muñoz,
this is an annual course that is given to all the teachers at a particular local school. They receive
an introduction to art, they are taken to the museum, their critical spirit is encouraged
and work is undertaken with teachers and pupils to establish a total project for the school,
which is turned into a gallery, with work in the corridors, the gym, the playgrounds. In the cases of the Pau Vila, La Gornal and Ramon y Cajal schools, the project ended with a large
mural by Arranz-Bravo, made in cooperation with pupils. To come to fruition, this project has to overcome enormous challenges. It needs the patience of teachers attending art classes, turned
into students again; the tenacity and conviction of school heads; the perseverance and high standards of our educator, Artur Muñoz; the generosity of both Arranz-Bravo and L’Hospitalet City Council. This is a collective and cooperative art project of the highest order
that we hope to be able to spread to other schools in the city and —why not?— the
whole country.
The third stage in our local deployment of the arts was the creation of Sculpture’s Corner. We
were surprised, and continue to be surprised, that contemporary art has such little presence
in our streets and squares. Street art is understood as merely monuments commissioned by
the local authority to commemorate a particular event. But art in the public space can be given a more social, ephemeral reading that is closer to people’s hearts: a platform installed in Plaça d’Europa square that will showcase a work by a different emerging artist every six
months. This is the premise that was made possible, firstly, by the City Council, which gave
us permission and proposed a circular platform, and by businesses in the square, which
financed the cost of the work. And, once more, the collaboration of Arranz-Bravo who, in
February 2014, unveiled the first work in this project: Europa, a bronze sculpture that crystallises
the collective spirit that we seek to project from this artistic grandstand. Here, then, is
another pioneering project that seeks to unite different social strata around the warming fire
of contemporary art.

In short, the foundation as a springboard and platform for the arts. A springboard, because the vast majority of artists who have shown work or taken part in our projects have grown professionally at FAB, whether giving substance to their work or by coming into contact with the contemporary art “establishment”, from critics and the media to collectors. A platform, because we have always attempted to make our projects cross-cutting cultural events: meeting points between different local social strata (from teachers to business people, from children to connoisseurs) that can experience the singularity of art as multidisciplinary creativity. Five years of experiencing and experimenting with contemporary art that have enabled us to lay solid foundations ready for the next five years, which we now embark on, affirming and questioning ourselves in the same critical and lively spirit as on the very first day.

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