From 1917 onwards, art in Catalonia went through a major renewal that represented the supersession of the thinking underlying the Catalan Noucentisme movement. Rafael Barradas’ Vibrationist painting, and the evolution of the work of Joaquín Torres García, who in 1917 published the “Art-Evolució” (Art-evolution) manifesto, laid the groundwork for an overhaul of the plastic art scene, completed by the artists from the group Els Evolucionistes (The Evolutionists), which Joan Rebull joined in 1918. The most outstanding period in his sculpture lasted from 1927, when he did this piece, to the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. The small head of polychrome raw clay, representing his first son, is characterised by absolutely original realism, rooted, as noted by the critic Sebastià Gasch, halfway between “reason and instinct”, between “plastic and poetry”. The concept has a certain relation to aspects of the European New Objectivity, insofar as it represents a purified reality, in a synthesis of perception and dimension. Joan Rebull’s sculpture, like that of classical antiquity, is based on knowledge rather than impression; in it, polychromy has, in and of itself, a plastic value, thus relating back to new historical references such as Egyptian, Gothic or Romanesque sculpture.
Carmen Fernández Aparicio