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Anibal Catalan - The Artist

Those who are familiar with Anibal Catalan and his work will know that he studied architecture as his first degree in University of Anahuac before transferring to visual arts, and know of the profound influence that this initial education and that of architectural authors like Mark Novak, had on his body of work. What is little known is the fact that, according to Catalan, he never abandoned architecture, and his current role as painter/sculptor/videographer is an extension of his architectural practice. In other words, Anibal Catal?'s paintings and sculptures are not mere reflections on architecture and its possibilities, nor are they a simple critique of architecture; his work is architecture itself, or at least a kind of experimental architecture. 

The father of experimental architecture, Lebbeus Woods, and another great influence on Catalan's work, criticizes Vienna, Austria, as a being place that could collapse under the weight of its own history, order and cleanliness. He says: "The crisis is that there is no crisis? the unnatural tranquillity, the lack of critical debate? the insular self-satisfaction constitutes a kind of emergency without sirens." However, Catalan describes Mexico City as somewhere more open and free due to its disorder and constant state of flux and crisis. One of Catalan's prime objectives is to construct a personal entity and ideal that provokes a sense of freedom "without roots" in the spectator/visitor. He creates a space in his works where the spectator can float in the air in one moment and have his feet firmly on the ground in another, a heterotopia where the inhabitant can feel ordered and calm one moment and chaotic in the next. 

Catalan characterizes his work as an "endless labyrinth with multiple entrances and exits," each mark and material signifying something tangible in the real world. He uses words like falling roofs, walls, stairs, peaks, cables, floating canvases, vectors, hot and cold areas to explain the heterogeneous elements in his work. He creates visceral and cathartic spaces without falling into the metaphysical or the chaotic, with an impeccable awareness of defining each formal or material aspect of his compositions. 

The current exhibition is curiously titled Home, a word with many connotations and idiomatic uses in the English language: "Home is where the heart is", "Feels like home", "Home Sweet Home", "Mexico is my home", "There's no place like home", and "A house is not a home", among others. It is curious because Catalan regards these abstract architectonic landscapes as his home, a relatively intimate and solitary place. It is more curious because he wants to invite strangers to come and experience this supposedly private space that he defines as "home".

Ichiro Irie Visual Artist & Editor, RiM Magazine 

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