miércoles, 10 de agosto de 2011

Roman Opalka

Mr. Opalka, who had lived and worked in France since 1977, embarked on his quixotic project while working as an artist in Warsaw. Starting at the top left of a canvas measuring a little over four by six feet, and using acrylic paint, he used a fine brush (No. 0) to inscribe 20,000 to 30,000 white numerals on a black background in neat rows that ended at the bottom right corner. Each succeeding canvas, or “detail” as he called it, picked up where the previous one left off. As of July 2004, he had reached 5.5 million.
In 1968 Mr. Opalka changed his background color to gray, and four years later, as he passed the one million mark, he began adding a tiny amount of white paint to the background color after each canvas to lighten it gradually. By 2008 he was painting white numerals on a white background whose color he called “blanc merité,” or “well-earned white.”
In 1972 he also began speaking each number into a tape recorder as he worked and taking passport-style photographs of himself in front of each canvas at the end of each work session.
All the paintings in the series bore the same title, "Opalka 1965/1 — ∞." "All my work is a single thing, the description from one to infinity," Mr. Opalka once wrote. "A single thing, a single life."

Five years after executing his first numeral painting, he ceased all other work and devoted 

himself fulltime to the pursuit of infinity. In 2010, Christie’s sold three of his number 

paintings as a unit for $1.3 million.

In anticipation of his 80th birthday, several exhibitions were organized in France and Italy 

and a collection of his self-portraits was published by Éditions Courts et Longues.
Though his artistic quest might have seemed bloodless and abstract, Mr. Opalka described it, passionately, as a grand metaphor for human existence. “Time as we live it and as we create it embodies our progressive disappearance,” he wrote in an essay in 1987. “We are at the same time alive and in the face of death — that is the mystery of all living beings.”


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