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The Yellow Book / Chiquita Room, Museu Picasso, Fundaciò Antoni Tàpies, Biblioteca Pública Arús

Artist Jaro Varga presents The Yellow Book, a project to rethink the universality of knowledge through books and libraries

The Yellow Book is a project by artist Jaro Varga, curated by Erich Weiss, which questions the universality of hegemonic knowledge and its transmission through books, based on a comparative critical reading of various bibliographic collections with references from the artist’s personal library. The project consists of ephemeral interventions in emblematic libraries in the city of Barcelona, such as the Arús Public Library, the ones in Antoni Tàpies Foundation and Picasso Museum, and is completed with the publication of an artist's book and an installation in Chiquita Room, which brings together titles from his own archive in relation to those chosen from the collections of these libraries.

During a week preceeding the presentation of a linked installation in Chiquita Room’s gallery space, the artist will spend some time in the spaces for lecture and study existing in the Picasso Museum, the Antoni Tàpies Foundation and the Arús Public Library as an artistic performance. His discrete, almost invisible actions, will consist of making subtle transformations to the covers of existing books selected from the libraries’ collections. Varga expands his role as an artist to that of a librarian or researcher, who seeks to (re)discover the multiplicity of layers that unfold beyond the dominant narratives. Performatively, the artist transfers his practice from the studio to libraries and intuitively selects titles to connect them with new references, rethinking personal versus universal knowledge, and making visible the gaps in dominant discourses. In the process, he discreetly turns the library into a political space. The installation at Chiquita Room will echo or mirror this happening, as it will take books from the artist’s personal collection as a starting point. Also, personal drawings will complete the presentation. Varga draws intuitively, as in a choreography of the mind, and his drawings will be reproduced in the The Yellow Book, published especially for the occasion.

The artist is fascinated by how until recently our knowledge has been expressed through writing and has been cultivating this interest in the principles of how the sum of our knowledge is created, including the continued failure or inability to discover how things “really are”. He questions the relationship between books and their covers. The covers of the books are a complement, the exterior, the surface. They exist outside the book, but they are also part of it. In general, covers protect books. In fact, during the Second World War, for example, banned Polish books were covered with dust jackets of German detective novels to give them a chance to survive. This tactic was also used to smuggle books across the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany. But covers can also exist without books, like empty shells, just as books can exist without them.

Jaro Varga is a Slovak visual artist and curator based in Prague, Czech Republic. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, and also participated in student exchanges at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw and Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in the USA. He has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at home and abroad, including Where do we go from here? at the Vienna Secession (2010), Public Folklore at the Grazer Kunstverein in Graz (2011), Delete at the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava (2012), Vulnerable Failures at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul (2013), City Diary at the Triangle Arts Association in New York (2013), Dysraphic City at Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin (2013), When Artists Speak Truth at The 8th Floor Gallery in New York (2016), Prague Biennale 6 (2013), Bucharest Biennale 7 (2016), In Someone’s Else Dream at SODA Gallery in Bratislava (2017), Missing Something and Itself Missing at Ivan Gallery Bucharest, About Books at AlbumArte Rome (2018), History is His Story at NEST ruimte voor kunst, The Hague (2019) and many others.

Erich Weiss is a visual artist and curator, born in Belgium, who lives and works in Barcelona. He collaborates as curator amongst others with the Picasso Museum Barcelona, the Antoni Tàpies Foundation and is curator at large of Huis Sonneveld Rotterdam. In recent years he made exhibitions about surrealism and dada and contemporary art for international museums and institutions.

Chiquita Room is a little center for contemporary art and creation that develops its activity as a gallery, residence for artists, producer and curator of projects, and publisher of artist books. Located in the Sant Antoni neighborhood of Barcelona, ​​it is focused on interdisciplinary and collective work, with the desire to support local and international talent and with a deep commitment to listening and foster the creative potential of individuals and groups.

The Arús Public Library was founded in 1895 by Rossend Arús i Arderiu with the aim of educating the people of Barcelona. Today, it has become a research centre specialising in Freemasonry, the workers' movement, anarchism and the world of Sherlock Holmes. It also conserves a very important collection of documents that bring together human knowledge, with a predominance of works published in the 19th century and the first third of the 20th century.

The library of the Antoni Tàpies Foundation was inaugurated in June 1990, located in the building of the former Editorial Montaner i Simón, designed in 1879 by the modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The library specialises in modern and contemporary art and also contains an extensive collection on the work by Antoni Tàpies: monographs, exhibition catalogues, invitations, press articles and various archival material. Its initial collection was made up of some 5,000 volumes donated from Antoni Tàpies' private library. The collections include books on painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving, architecture, design, decorative arts, performance, photography, film and video, as well as emerging arts and collections on Asian, African and Oceanic art and culture.

The library of the Picasso Museum is a centre dedicated to promoting the study and dissemination of the life and work of Pablo Picasso. It offers a collection of documents on the artist and, by extension, on the artistic context of his entire life, which covers practically the whole of the 20th century.

The Czech Centre in Madrid was solemnly inaugurated on 12 December 2003 and opened to the public on 1 January 2004. The aim of the Centre is to promote the best of Czech culture throughout Spain and to help establish new relations between cultural institutions and art schools in both countries. The mission of the Czech Centres is to develop dialogue with the foreign public and to support the active presentation of the Czech Republic in the fields of culture, science, education, trade and tourism. It is a standard to assist in the promotion of Czech culture in leading art institutions in the countries of destination. The Czech Centre is a member of EUNIC (European Union National Cultural Institutes). We are an organization funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.


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