Enric Mestre
Mestre, a master of aesthetics who will fill the spaces of the ECA with the essence of his works, murals and sculptures. This exhibition opens a window to the different periods in the career of the artist from Alboraya, who has been able to add a poetic touch to rationalism, to the geometry of his works, providing them with great warmth, through an accurate combination of pure colours and materials. In this new proposal, Enric Mestre shows us his conception of art over more than 50 years of professional career. With his particular vision of aesthetics, he surprises us with his unparalleled capacity to communicate through his pieces. A unique and personal expression we are now able to contemplate in Riba-roja.


Imaginary constructions & Experienced geometries
A slow and deliberate dialogue with the paintings and ceramic sculptures of enric mestre,
in the spaces of the Castell de Riba-roja.
Román de la Calle
In this journey that I propose, through writing and reflection, “with the artist” and “from his works”, as a tribute to the professor and artist Enric Mestre (Alboraya, 1936), we will come across, sooner or later, whether we like it or not, his dual artistic proposals. In fact, “with” and “from”, we do not stop moving “by exhibition prescription”, following the unique set up of the Riba-roja exhibition, in the vicinity of his own creative environment. The truth is that, due to the imposition of his personal artistic career, we cannot focus on his striking paintings without stopping to think about his paradigmatic ceramic sculptures. And in reverse, how can we limit ourselves to the universe of his ceramic works, once we discover, in parallel, the effervescent and complementary counterpoint of his pictorial activity? A dual activity, which has always accompanied him.
Let us recognize, then, that, as we enter the particular world of his artistic production, we are forever condemned to correlate the personal contemplation of his ceramic works with the parallel emergence, in our mind, of his surprising and careful pictorial constructions, as differentiated and complementary aesthetic references. This has been happening to me, for a long time, as an accurate follower of his work. We feel, once again, directly imprisoned in this game of alternatives. That is why it is perhaps advisable to make the methodological effort, as a previous strategic vaccine, never to leave behind the option of referring, simultaneously, to his ceramic works when we carry out the research approach to his pictorial works.
Perhaps it is best, therefore, to support the effort of skilfully correlating both registers, making his ceramic works and his paintings converse in an interdisciplinary way and also, in addition, to try to always correlate them with the secret architectures, which dwell at will in his constructivist dreams and fantasies.


That’s what we ordinarily advise, in a pedagogic way. Also, in an effusive way, we do it now, facing this complex exhibition of his works, installed in the spaces of the Castell, where we hope his numerous friends and followers will come, who in fact form a secret admiring school, the result, perhaps, of the exercised and effective pedagogy put into practice by Professor Enric Mestre, halfway between knowledge and teaching, between discovery and find, between surprise and reflection.
These are, therefore, multipurpose and categorical tasks of our esteemed Mestre, both in his ceramic works and in his pictorial proposals, which are equally open to controlled touch and harmonious visuality. Even in the pictorial series, shapes and colors are fully integrated into his works, as if each canvas were a referentially selected sculptural cloth. That is the secret game that, boosting his creativity, becomes explicit and evident throughout our inquisitive wandering through his artistic production of lustrums and decades. Sometimes, extremely surprised, we realize that the pictorial space can become an exemplary field of textural tests and contrasting chromaticisms, taken decidedly on loan from the same ceramic activity. It is as if painting wants to talk to us about ceramics, in detail, responding to the challenge that has arisen, between the fingers of the imagination, which emphasizes and empowers its capacities for perceptive deception. 11 Inexhaustible dialogues between structures, geometries, textures, shapes and colours.
For some time now, we have repeatedly discovered a selection of paintings that, almost in secret, in the geometric tranquility of his studio, Enric Mestre has recently imposed one after the other on the plastic metamorphoses that his mind houses, born, as independent works, of the codified language that he traces in his notebooks and drawings, converted into inexhaustible deposits / reservoirs of rhythmic sleeping creativity. A seductive and reborn continuous work arises from there, totally oscillating between painting, sculpture and imagined architectures. Enric Mestre needs, almost obsessively, to experiment daily, as a versatile lifesaver and an obligatory exercise of personal maintenance, to continue believing in the possibilities of a discreetly shared existence with artistic action. Such is the basic message sent to us at point-blank range by the committed author of these enigmatic interdisciplinary compositions from his wor- kshop, while he continues obsessively travelling, every morning, from painting to ceramics, to restart, once again, every evening, the opposite way, on his return.
We have often thought that Enric Mestre - undoub- tedly one of the most consolidated figures on the national and international scene of our contemporary art, ethically committed to his profession is perhaps condemned to tirelessly experiment and relive processes of innovation, day after day, always born from the secrets discovered through his constant exchanges with materials, in the monitoring of procedures and techniques, in the tracking of new forms and in the secret behaviour of colors thanks to his personal transversalities and aesthetic adventures. Such are, indeed, his creative powers and artistic achievements.


“With” & “from” are the two paths of affection and recognition opened in this exhibition by friends and followers, who wish to get closer to the figure and work of Mestre, thus joining and participating in the tribute proposed with this exhibition. But precisely in this case, the artist’s facere will lag behind our theorein, which etymologically implies both looking and seeing and reflecting, always keeping Mestre’s works as an obligatory reference. Stimulus and challenge. Temptation and goal.
Thus, we are fully aware that between sight and touch, Enric Mestre’s ceramic sculptures, in their rigorous constructivism, appear to us, perhaps more and more, surrounded by a kind of highly enigmatic aura, in the midst of their drastic and sought after formal sobriety. It could be said that we never fully accustom ourselves to them, that we are always attracted by their presence, yet, in spite of everything, we respectfully remain at a distance, expectant and surprised by the secrets that inhabit his works. Those are precisely the distances required by sight and the proximity also demanded by touch. How many times have we gone through the historic surfaces of these architectures, which have emerged from dreams
and which, in each case, are proposed to us by the striking works of Enric Mestre, caressing with our fingertips the meticulous and controlled orography of their textures chamotte and engobes, while at the same time ratifying, with our eyes, the perfection of their layout and the consistent solemnity of their volumes? How many times have we also revolved around his works, observing them from the most plural points of view, as if to verify more decisively and meticulously the power of their presence and thus contrast, 17 even better, if possible, the scope of this singular mystery, which seems to emerge, intermittently, from the interior of their disturbing spaces? It has often been said, as if trying to reveal a secret, that it is the characteristic shape of his sculptures the rigorously calculated plates, cut and assembled together what determines the basis of his vigorous geometric language, of his constructive poetics. Throughout his long artistic career, Enric Mestre has certainly created a whole repertoire of formal elements, whose combined articulations, based on detailed codes, have been able to generate ascetic spaces, internally and externally linked, perhaps dictated by an imagination well controlled by calculation and rational choices, capable, in turn, of sheltering feelings.


We cannot simply speak here, causally, of strict mimetic appeals to specific architectural proposals. It is one thing to influence and another to determine. It would be a mistake to promote a radical and biased denotative reading of many of his pieces, in the face of the specific urban environment. What really matters is the articulation of a world of its own, loaded with connotations and autonomous symbologies, if by chance we want to go beyond pure forms and volumes, when it comes to justifying its origins.
Actually, it’s their internal syntax that counts. A syntax that generates shapes, volumes and spaces. And if our gaze - impacted by the games of perception and imagination that motivate us in these works by Enric Mestre - also appeals to reflection, we must give way and make room for the spectacle of that inner world, typical of this work, jumping from the image to the symbol, from the sensitive side to the order, from the immediate qualities to the surprise of certain rational keys that motivate affection.
Could there be a better rationalisation strategy, through which, in a more effective way, the presence of matter is shown to us, not only in its intense and rich sensitive aspect, but also in its multiple, formally constructive links? In fact, we move directly, in front of the works of Enric Mestre, in the full domain of sensuality, always contained, marked by geometry, while we know we are also attracted by the strength of constructive images, which his careful repertoire, time and time again, proposes to us. His works are loquacious and, at the same time, silent.


If the scope of sensitivity is exactly defined in this encounter between matter and the subject, that is to say between the material potential that is resolved in the presence of our gaze and our touch, we must also bear in mind that the resulting image of this dialogue between forms, spaces and volumes, also has the double and disturbing character of an aesthetic reality touched by the elongated shadow of reason. Is it not the hybrid character of these images, between the significant physicality, which appeals to the perception and the generous experience of the imagination, but which are also conceived with the help of calculation and geometry? Who, on one occasion or another, touched by fantasy, has not tried to wander silently through the sculptural spaces of Enric Mestre, among those rough and warm walls, easily ready to ooze memories, affections and memory, among those walls and dwellings that, like small labyrinths, contain mysteries? Alongside this world of shapes and volumes, represented in his imaginary architectures, it is also worth noting the emergence of an expressed world, full of enigmas and silences, set in the interplay of spaces, holes, passages, stairs, bends, angles and walls.
Doesn’t the significant scope of this curious metaphysical universe that his sculptural/pictorial proposals suggest to us with a certain vehemence deserve to be re- considered, even briefly? Spaces of solitude, yet open to be inhabited. Intimate spaces, in some cases, and distantly gloomy in others. Corners for meditation or places for waiting, but they are always ordered cosmoses.
Few times, like this one, the artistic object seems to be endowed, equally, with rigor and a certain expressiveness, in such an immediate and intense way, in front of our gaze, even to the point of openly transforming itself into imaginary architecture or lived geometry, as happens, very particularly, in the development of Enric Mestre’s murals: his no less striking stoneware and varnish plates. In his reticular outlines, in his interplay of lines, one could say that the pulse of the gesture, the trace of the stroke beats expressly, as if wanting to contribute the human heartbeat to the geometry itself, which emerges from the work. Truth be told, I have always been surprised by Enric Mestre’s mural panels, so directly linked to his particular pictorial activity, his acrylics on canvas. The neatness of their execution, the tour de force of their studied and clean chromaticisms, the attention to detail of their layout, the interplays of light, unfolding between their brilliant treatments and the challenge of their extensive conception, based on exhaustive series, are just as many motives to admire and influence, once again, the value of this type of impressive plastic proposals.
It is not therefore a coincidence, taking into account the extensive and consolidated career of Enric Mestre, that we should count him among the most outstanding international sculptors, who have decided to attend to the richness and versatility of ceramics, with total dedication and rigor. In fact, once conquered by the ceramic medium, rather than easily exploiting his well known performance, he has always preferred, on the contrary, to explore and test his possibilities, in dialogue with the practice of painting, as a testament to his secret constructive capacities. Perhaps this and no other is the true way, back and forth, that he has known how to travel.


Never, at any point of his career, has there been an attempt to promote a punctual adventure or to weave together a brief and isolated experience; on the contrary, his professionalism has been totally in line with his staggering achievements. More and more strict in his research and with less and less concessions to anything that is not the result of work, personal challenge and creative demand, Enric Mestre has been and continues to be one of the mainstays who has known how to normalize the not always easy situation of ceramic sculpture, among the various contemporary artistic manifestations.
In this case, his imaginary constructions and the explicit geometries of his murals are, without a doubt, an unbeatable double example of what we have just mentioned. Not only the mastery and level of the technical means and resources employed -something that should always be taken for granted-, but also the demanding conception of each of his work projects, the wealth of associations and the critical rigor that underpins his artistic contributions are, in short, some of the keys that argue and endorse the outstanding place that, without a doubt, the mastery of Enric Mestre occupies in the panorama of the plastic arts of our time, from both ceramic sculpture and painting - we insist - in which he knows how to jointly arbitrate a common denominator of a powerful and resolute constructive base.
The operative resolution of the secret homage to the artist, which each exhibition involves, is therefore not easy. An acknowledgement in which we have embarked, the different visitors of the spaces of the Castell de Riba-Roja, devoted with complete success, to contemporary art, from our respective angles, promoting certain rereadings of some of his plural and complex artistic experiences, always straddling between painting and ceramic sculpture. Although, in this case, the difficulty becomes a stimulus and the persistence of the aesthetic experience undertaken facilitates the challenge, time and time again, of having a conversation “with” Enric Mestre or facing the admiring adventure “from” his fruitful and extensive teaching.
June 2018