Inmersion (2017)


Transition to a new begining

Pere de Ribot has found a new path, far from his temporally suspended landscapes.

For the last two years Pere has been searching beyond his comfort zone, contemplating the reasons for his inner restlessness, trying to understand the forces that encourage him to change.

There are artists who always paint the same thing. These great artists of repeated perfection, masters of nuance and detail, who never tire of the routine find, precisely in this repetitiveness, their main reason for being. This repetition brings an internal litany, an infinite contemplation of what is always there.

Pere de Ribot does not tire of his landscapes. For years he has found balance in them and discovered the meaning of the essence of life. The strength of his painting lay in this ability to stop time. The fields and horizons, the heavens laden with clouds and light, the trees that dissolve in the rain, all form an almost perfect order - an enveloped Eden - shrouded in a patina of melancholy and liquid spirituality.

In 2008, at the time of his exhibition Interior Horizon, I wrote that “the landscape is the past for Pere de Ribot, and in his painting, it enables a journey so far back in time that it reaches the starting point, this moment when the world was mere scenery, a gift for man to elaborate”.

Landscapes do not lie. Especially those of Pere de Ribot, who must be placed amongst the great Catalan landscape artists. Rigalt, Martí Alsina, Urgell, Vayreda, Mir, Rosiñol, Matilla, Meifrèn, Sunyer, Raurich, Nonell, Anglada Camarasa and many others who precede Pere de Ribot in the challenge of deciphering the truth about ourselves and our environment.

The artist who stands before nature knows that behind the mountains and horizons, seas and skies, there is a much deeper reality, a reality deep in values, indebted to the power of creation, and the consequent smallness of man.

This is what Pere de Ribot sees, from this high point vantage point, in front of soft and gentle landscapes, which offers the desire to be mirrors of our identity and frame of our desires.

This aspiration continues to motivate our artist who, nevertheless has changed his vantage point. If before we saw nature from a window, a poetic window, inspired so many times by Rainer Maria Rilke, poet of inspiration to our painter, today we are immersed in marine landscapes. This change of perspective is not only physical but also vital.

If Pere de Ribot abandons the known and replaces it with a new seascape, it is because he has found a new meaning to life. The underwater world that fills his canvases must be understood as a metaphor for this artistic and spiritual introspection.

For years De Ribot has had a close relationship with the Caribbean, especially with the Dominican Republic. He exhibits at the Arte Berri Gallery in Santo Domingo and spends long periods at Juan Dolio, at the Hemingway Club House, which today is the starting point for his new creativity.

What began as an escape, the need to isolate oneself to understand and assimilate a new restlessness, has become the essential basis of a renewed artistic identity.

Throughout his career, Pere de Ribot has traveled extensively: France, Italy, Russia, Morocco and Germany - among many others - these have been destinations that have enriched his gaze.

This time however, in addition to a physical journey - undoubtedly the most influential of those he has undertaken so far - what really interests De Ribot is the inner journey. The challenge to leave his studios in the Alt Empordà and Barcelona was daring. The result was very uncertain. There was no guarantee that he would ever see a new light.

Without expecting anything concrete, De Ribot began to paint purely for himself, spending time letting himself be carried away. Slowly the Caribbean colors and aromas, the warmth of the Dominicans, the freshness of life in its fullness, cleared a new path. “It penetrated through the skin,” he acknowledges. “It was instinctive, I did not intellectualize it.”

His style remains the same, between figurative and informal painting, although his abstraction strikes with more force. Pere de Ribot is still painting with the canvas on the floor or leaning against the wall. Sponges, rags and spatulas accompany, as always, the brushes. The gesture has not changed either. Pere continues to paint in his white shirts and trousers, but the former order and serenity of that time have turned into chaos - the chaos of genesis and vitality.

Nothing is the same anymore. If the landscapes of the earth represented an orderly and serene world, the landscapes of the sea represent a world yet to crystalize, life in full expansion. Pere de Ribot has plunged into the waters, submerged, to see and to feel, to explore life - in the making- and to which he can contribute.

The horizon is still a reference in some canvases, but it gradually loses prominence. Pere de Ribot becomes accustomed to the harmony of water. He no longer needs to break the the surface to catch his air. The horizons, although still luminous, narrow as the depth of the sea emerges and resonates with its own light and intense colors. Greens, blues, oranges and yellows acquire a new expressiveness. The palette is enriched and a new narrative surfaces. Color tells us a new story, the story of creation.

Fish appear, as do shellfish, symbols of life and abundance, animals that Pere de Ribot had never painted before but now does not hesitate to place in the foreground. If in the terrestrial landscapes the animal life was only intuited, it now stands out. And not only the fish, but also the jellyfish, the corals and the faded forms, barely insinuated but also loaded with the mystery of life.

Pere de Ribot feels a great love for nature, an ethereal love that is born in the damp earth and rises to the sky in a soft, muffled and spongy verticality. The terrestrial landscapes are built with a very delicate and sensitive architecture. The horizontal planes find the harmony in the verticality of the cypresses, the tops of the olive trees, the mists that announce a superior reality.

To this order that constantly floats and calls upon the mystery of creation, De Ribot comes from the hand of his father Juan Maria, a person of an incomparable humanity and, moreover, a notable architect. Those of us who were fortunate enough to meet him, to sit down and talk with him, learned to appreciate the details, to find the balance in the smallest things.

Pere de Ribot has been able to show us these absences, to paint the voids, the places where man reigns without being. If in the terrestrial landscapes the epic and the solitude fly, in the seascapes there is an abundance of primeval love. Both are a reflection of a higher reality, but now we are facing joy and freedom, the outbreak of life. The slow and arduous time, the dense gravity of before, has been transformed into a festive, childish and swift, without hesitation and also, hardly without perspective.

The absent man no longer has the luxury of distance to see the finished landscape. Pere de Ribot has thrown him into the sea, raked the seafloor and shows him the bounty and abundance, the richness of a new existence at its peak.

The submerged world of Pere de Ribot continues the mystery and dreamlike freedom of his old world rising, but now has a new splendor. We can only give thanks and let it carry us.


Xavier Mas de Xaxàs