Trees for the festival of life

  • Madola & Joaquim Capdevila
  • 2 May - 15 June 2024

Joaquim Capdevila, brooch “tree”, gold, wood, acrylic colour.

Madola, collage “Els crits de les fulles – the cry of the leaves”, paper, colour.

3 X 80 – and an ode to the tree as the source of life
The Vienna gallerist Renate Slavik is mounting an exhibition devoted to the Catalonian artists Joaquim Capdevila and Madola – celebrating their three round birthdays.

Whether depicted in colour brushstrokes on paper or in gold combined with other materials such as wood, clay or porcelain that recall the earth in which it takes root: the tree is the protagonist. Like a leitmotif, trees constantly reappear in the selection of works by the jewellery artist Joaquim Capdevila and the collages created specially for this exhibition by his long-standing artistic collaborator Madola.

The power of expression characteristic of Madola’s ceramic oeuvre is also in evidence in her works in painted and glued paper, in which she contrasts the rough, fraying texture of torn edges with energetic and consciously synthetic brushstrokes. Madola plays with the colours of the earth, of tree trunks and of branches, often with a touch of the vibrant blue typical of her work, so distinctive that one could call it ‘Madola Blue’. The trees thus created have individual personalities and names of their own, which like captions or thoughts combine to give this series its overall meaning: ‘The Song of the Leaves’, ‘The Tree of the Poets’, ‘The Essence of Trees’ or ‘The Wind’s Caress’ – making a grove rich in poetic feeling.

Joaquim Capdevila’s works – jewellery trees or tree jewellery, as you like – have been created out of memories of his youth, when he went walking through the woods and meadows of the Catalonian Pyrenees in the richly fertile region of La Cerdanya. The emotions evoked by this tree-dominated landscape have taken form in a collection of brooches in which gold is omnipresent. The archaic character of the precious metal is reflected in a rough surface that still bears the marks of the fire. Whether homogeneous or uneven, almost Baroque, this surface gives the brooches a noble shine and warmth. In addition, a number of other materials play their part: various woods, white porcelain, chamotte, and the exquisite Urushi lacquer of Japan. In all this, Capdevila strives for the greatest possible simplicity: every piece of his art jewellery is a page in his book of experience, and every brooch bears within it a little piece of real life.

Renate Slavik’s close and warm-hearted relationship with Joaquim Capdevila and Madola dates from the early years of the gallery, which has hosted numerous exhibitions of Catalonian jewellery art from the early 1990s onwards. Again and again, Capdevila has drawn inspiration for his works from very personal life experiences. In 2004 he marked two sixtieth birthdays – his own and Renate Slavik’s – with sixty ‘Goblets for a Celebration of Life’, which were shown at the gallery in Vienna. In 2024, they are not the only ones turning 80 – Madola is too. Which is good reason to celebrate with a shared exhibition centring on the tree as a symbol for being rooted in our memories of the past and for growing positively into an uncertain future.