Philip De Keyser photography
In life, Bigas wears his heart on his sleeve. He speaks passionately, gesturing often, emotions and ideas in constant competition. His studio provides a disorientating contrast; this is a controlled environment, floors swept, paints in military order, brushes cleaned, dried and stored according to size.
In conversation, he is openly protective of his paintings, describing them as children. Attempts at analysis make him defensive, as if he fears the ‘science’ of art criticism might upset his faith in the magic of creation. On more than one occasion, he claims to believe that painting is just a way of escaping, which begs the question: from what?
Bigas was born in the small town of Palafrugell in Girona, Spain. He showed talent early – as well as an appreciation for the practical applications of art – producing superbly detailed drawings of superheroes for his classmates. Like the majority of his peers, Bigas left school at 16. He worked as a painter and decorator for several years, until a group of renowned artists in the region conspired to run him out of town:
“Modest Cuixart, Josep Martinell, Floreal, Tano Pisano, Rodolfo Candelaria. They supported me. They told me I had to leave if I wanted to realise my ambitions, even if it meant I could never come back. Cuixart, Martinell and Floreal have died in the years since. I miss them so much. I’m still trying to make them proud.”
Bigas travelled for several years – collages from this period often incorporate found elements from his ‘day job’ as a painter / decorator, including scraps of wallpaper and strips of braid – and produced four extraordinary sequences of drawings in which it is possible to trace his development from journeyman to master. In chronological order, these are the Palafrugell Drawings, the Sydney Drawings, the New York Drawings and the London Drawings.
Over time, these works develop in depth and tone. One can see the artist growing more confident and decisive. The compositions become more harmonious, the line more dynamic, imbued with its own internal logic and agency. The drawings, together with a number of larger scale paintings, soon began to draw notice. In 2007, Bigas was invited to stage a solo exhibition at Funcacio Cruixart in Barcelona, and another at the Brick Lane Gallery in London. Based in Berlin since 2012, he has exhibited at the Friedrichswerderscher Cemetary (2011), Kunsthaus Meinblau (2012), and Gallerie Kuchling (2013, 2014, 2017).
His growing reputation is deserved. His work stands out, not only for aesthetic and technical reasons, but for its emotional honesty, its faith in the fundamental generosity of the medium, and subsequent willingness to take risks. Bigas does not shy away from the world as he finds it, further undermining his claim that ‘painting is just a way of escaping’.
Tom Pugh, art historian and novelist