Memories | Joan Tharrats Ral



The process of research of my father’s works, as well as of letters and critical texts, for the exhibition that we present in this new space of the Mayoral Gallery in Verdú, has served me to remember, through the chronology of the selected material, moments, sensations and characters that my memory had forgotten too easily. Likewise, I have been discovering some other facts I that did not know.

Memories of summers spent in Cadaqués, where my father’s artistic activity and his activities as cultural agitator —yes, that is precisely the word— never faltered. The number of personalities whom I met thanks to my father would be unending. From Salvador Dalí to Marcel Duchamp, whom I remember playing chess, at the Melitón, with my brother Eduard. Man Ray, Carles Riba, J.V. Foix, all of them painters, artists and writers, collectors, or mere friends who would later become the most fervent collectors…

Also more distant memories, from the time of the Dau al Set group and the «maculaturas» (spoiled printed sheets). Even those smells I have never perceived again; the smell of the different printing inks used by the little «Boston» machine, of turpentine and petrol, of varnish and paint, the newspaper sheets to cover the stains… A whole mixture he created in the studio-atelier we had just on top of the flat we lived in, in an almost heavenly atmosphere, where Tharrats spent long hours painting, creating and «plotting».

Let’s go on with the memories: the magic game that Joan Brossa gave my brother and I once, for the Three Kings’ Day celebration, the wonderful toy circus that the painter Lluís Marsans exchanged with my father for books or paintings, and that is currently being exhibited in the Toy Museum of Catalonia, located in Figueras.

Since his arrival in Barcelona, in 1935, Tharrats went every Sunday to the used books flea market at Ronda de Sant Antoni. During the 50s and 60s, almost everything was bartered: paintings for circuses, books for shirts, drawings for dresses, Christmas cards for dinners, the samurai sword of Juan Eduardo Cirlot for I don’t know what, which he then wanted to get back… Memories and more memories. More recent events and always through his work, christmas, jewels, posters, tapestries, catalogues, articles, books and more books…

Thus, the exhibition we present aims to be an accurate selection of father’s output during the period of the Dau al Set, an artistic group that, according to the art critic Santos-Torroella, «it would not have existed nor lasted so long without the efficiency and resolve of its zeal». We are talking about a period that covers a time span of about ten years: from the late 40s, sometime before his first show in the gallery El Jardí (1950), until the late 50s. Those were intense and fruitful years, full of artistic vitality. Years that may very well exemplify these words, written down by another Catalan art critic, Alexandre Cirici-Pellicer, in his intimate diary of that time: «It gives me a wonderful pleasure the type of art of these people, because it means freedom and passion, the rigour of wanting to live an entirely poetic life, with the eyes open to all things. Cirlot talks good things about Tharrats, of whom he say that he has his face stuck to his wishes».

If we have succeeded in giving a vision, if not complete, at least as approximate as possible, we will feel more than happy.

Published in Tharrats. The Dau al Set Period. Barcelona, 2016. Mayoral. p 11.