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  • Writer's pictureRadmila Urošević

Xavier Escribà by Radmila Urošević

“Going beyond the presupposed formal and even conceptual limits of painting is the guiding principle of Xavier Escribà's artwork.”


Xavier Escribà

The new way of painting?

A series of three articles by Radmila Urošević


"I like the pictorial surface less and less. What's more, I like to think that it is done or can be done without having access to it or control over it. For so many years I will have to cohabit with the final version of the work, that I try to live fully all these ephemeral aspects/moments that are part of the process of the work. As if, throughout the pictorial process, the work were the memory of the experience and its final appearance a mere reductive trace of the moment at which we stopped insisting... Ultimately, a tribute to studio life. (20.12.2013) "

Xavier Escribà[1]


#1 Xavier Escribà, The incarnation of painting


Figure 1 : Protrait of Xavier Escribà, photo by Cristina Lliurat.

Biography: Xavier Escribà, born in Paris in 1969, is an artist whose preferred medium is painting. He studied at the Fine Arts Faculty Sant Jordi in Barcelona, then at the Fine Arts Academy in Paris, graduating in 1998 with unanimous congratulations from the jury. He lives and works in Catalonia. His work is shown internationally at contemporary art fairs and in galleries, where he has regular exhibitions. He had a solo show in Paris at Art Paris fair 2019[2] for the Gallery Olivier Waltman. Since 2012, the artist has kept a diary in which he records his thoughts on his artistic work and on painting. The diary is entitled Doubting everything... and painting.


Xavier Escribà's pictorial work emancipating from the painting and the image. His painting forms, deforms and reshapes itself outside the canvas, creating its own volume and taking on a real body in space. Xavier Escribà's work is constructed outside the usual framework of painting, which is the canvas, but also outside the structure provided by the stretcher. It takes shape and form in the physical space, introducing a carnal relationship between the artist and his painting.

The construction of painting as an independent body is interesting to be studied, but also its interdependence with the canvas. In this work, the canvas is a support placed on an equal footing with the pictorial material. Xavier Escribà's work invites us to question painting’s medium, but also its form when it seems to emerge and want to free itself from its traditional straitjacket.

When we talk about painting, it's quite easy to define it under the common form of a picture. Here, we can't talk about a picture, but we can talk about painting. Xavier Escribà's paintings take us on a journey through the material, but also through the conception, of a painting as a body. His painting is at one with the canvas, showing us the underside of painting and its desire to become flesh.


How is painting embodied in Xavier Escribà's work?


As Henri Focillon writes:

"Sculptors who see as painters, painters who see as sculptors, not only provide examples of the principle of interference, but they also prove the strength of the vocation by the very way in which it resists being thwarted. In some cases, the vocation knows its material or senses it, it sees it, but it does not yet possess it. This is because technique is not a given, it needs to be lived, it needs to work on itself".[3]


Xavier Escribà's work is the result of the practice: "I got there by painting and only painting", he says.

By devoting himself exclusively to painting twenty-five years ago, the artist has been able to appropriate, confront and live this pictorial language. He has given painting "all the rights and all the duties", to use his own expression. He made a symbolic agreement with painting. By devoting himself solely to it, painting should surprise him and show him just how rich an artistic discipline it is, one that allows and deserves to be continually questioned and updated.

Going beyond the presupposed formal and even conceptual limits of painting is the guiding principle of Xavier Escribà's artwork. His work is quite distinct from sculpture. The artistic approach is completely different from that of the sculptor. Xavier Escribà observes sculpture from a distance, the distance of a painter, just as he observes other artistic practices (dance, film, music, etc.). The artist is immersed in the world of painting, so much so that he sees the final work as the result of decisions, by action or omission, all linked to painting. He says that "when you're convinced that you're painting all the time, it's not possible to change the course of history".  Painting is so rich and lively, that it allows us to slip seemingly into other artistic languages, but it remains a painterly process. This is the case in all Xavier Escribà's artworks. He doesn’t feel like making sculpture, even though the result is a volume. Xavier Escribà assumes that from the beginning painting is identifiable even before it is created. Just as sculpture can be identified before it is created. The sculptor is already in the volume from the very first moment. The process and procedure followed to get to the final product is crucial in determining the character of the work: painting or sculpture. In this case, we are talking about painting, but a painting that becomes volume, a three-dimensional space, through its support but also through its medium itself. So, for the artist, the making of a painting and the very name of painting are determined upstream, even before it is executed. Elaborating the painting before it's created is a matter of bias. Everything seems to start from the conception of the painting. What is clear in Xavier Escribà's work is that painting takes its meaning from working with the material and the support. This painting, which tears itself away from two-dimensional space to construct itself in volume, is quite distinct from the practice of sculpture. It is nothing more than an evolving construction of the artist's pictorial approach, which appears natural. A painting that takes shape in space and constitutes its own pictorial body.

Xavier Escribà, L’ESDEVENIR DE LA PINTURA, 2011, Acrylic on canvas, 205 x 95 x 95 cm, Private collection.

Xavier Escribà's painting is embodied in space, taking its place, and becoming volumetric or voluminous painting. The volume of painting and painting in volume are an integral part of the artist's work. Through his work, Xavier Escribà marks a growth in the painted work and an evolution by itself and with itself. Through the practice of painting he has been able to develop his own creation process, a guideline that he pursues work after work. The importance of process and procedure is undoubtedly the key to understanding Xavier Escribà's work, but it also enables us to determine what makes a painting from the outset.

[1] Extract from the artist's diary, in Fragments of the journal begun in 2012 and entitled "Doubting everything... and paint", catalogue El mirall de l'Heure Bleue. Història d'un procés creatiu, Xavier Escribà, Figueres, 2015, p.79.

[2] Art Paris is a contemporary art fair held at the Grand Palais in Paris.

[3] Henri Focillion, Vie des formes (1943), Paris, Quadrige, 2017, p.73. Translated from french : « Les sculpteurs qui voient en peintres, les peintres qui voient en sculpteurs n’apportent pas seulement des exemples au principe des interférences, ils prouvent la force de la vocation par la manière même dont elle résiste, étant contrariée. Dans certains cas, la vocation connaît sa matière ou la pressent, elle la voit, mais elle ne la possède pas encore. C’est que la technique n’est pas un tout-fait, elle a besoin d’être vécue, il faut qu’elle travaille sur elle-même. ».


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