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Meeting place: Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, Miquel Barceló

With Meeting Place we present the wonderful collaboration of four artists in spaces dedicated to meditation, retreat and reflection: Henri Matisse at the The Rosary Chapel in Vence in the south of France; Mark Rothko at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas; Miquel Barceló at the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament in the Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca and Ellsworth Kelly at the Austin Chapel in the Blanton Museum, Texas.

Miquel Barceló © Joan Tomás for AD Magazine

In 2001 the Mallorcan artist Miquel Barceló (Felanitx, 1956) was commissioned by the Dean of Palma de Mallorca Cathedral to decorate its Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, which is one of the architectural jewels of Spanish Gothic arquitecture. For six years, Barceló worked on the clay murals for the chapel.

The decoration of the chapel was made by coating the walls with a skin of ceramic, reaching the groin vaults at the top. The clay appears like an irregular mass from which reliefs of bread and fish emerge, coloured with an incredible realism that makes the visitor feel like entering a marine, Mediterranean and earthly world. The work, which took enormous physical and mental effort from the artist, reinterprets two evangelical stories; the multiplication of the bread and fishes and the conversion of water into wine at the Canaan wedding. The centre of the set is presided over by an ethereal figure: the Transfiguration of Christ after his Resurrection.

Interior de la Capilla del Santísimo de la Catedral de Menorca por Miquel Barceló

The painter conceived the retable as a great pictorial work, a new way of painting. He developed a treatment of the ceramics that resulted in a kind of new fresco for the Cathedral. Technically it is a complex work that covers almost 300 square meters and was produced in Naples. After more than two years of preparations and hundreds of tests with materials, Barceló found the perfect technical solution for this place. The ceramic was built like a puzzle, installed on the wall and based on its natural cracks. In addition to painting, cracking, and shaping the clay mass, the artist left his mark on the walls with the palms of his hands.
 
Barceló’s passion for the sea is one of the central themes of his work. In this sense, despite its religious theme, the retable stands, at the same time, as a kind of homage to the ocean. The stained glass windows are designed to create different atmospheres that vary depending on the time of day or the season. Fish, water, and marine motifs cover the ceramic wall, bathed in a changing light. Rising above the visitor’s view, the chapel offers a peek into the ocean and the life of the deep sea, which is one of the main inspirations for Barceló.

Please click here to watch the video of Chapel of the Holy Sacrament.