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Guernica Revisited

Guernica Revisited
A world-famous painting reworked by celebrated Spanish photographer and artist José Manuel Ballester and printed by Durst is the star attraction at a special exhibition.

 For the first time, a modified Guernica – originally painted by artist Pablo Picasso – has been printed full-size using advanced digital printing and production technologies from Durst.

Guernica is a 1937 oil painting on canvas that is one of Picasso’s best-known works and is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.

Ballester, who has achieved international recognition for his interpretations of famous paintings, which eliminate both the human and animal elements has created Around Guernica, 2009/2020 an emptied version of Picasso’s painting that provides a contemporary version of an historical event and human tragedy. It now provides the centerpiece of the exhibition, 2020/03/15 José Manuel Ballester, which is being held in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and also features a selection of large-format photographs that reflect Bilbao’s deserted streets and spaces. It is open until 21st February 2021.

With “Around Guernica”, Ballester adds a new artwork to the project that began more than 10 years ago, when he decided to investigate the architectural and natural spaces that surround the stories of some of the most important works in history, such as The Meninas or The Garden of Earthly Delights. During the lockdown last spring, the artist received special permission to move around the deserted city of Bilbao and capture some incredible landscapes and images that have never been seen before.

These images were the first step in a project where Ballester collaborated with Estudios Durero and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which culminated in a photographic exhibition, publication of a book, and the first reproduction and exhibition of Around Guernica to the public. In this way, Ballester adds artwork to the Hidden Spaces project, which includes some of the transcendental and universal themes of the human race. Along with his proposal May 3, 2008, Around Guernica, 2009/2020 addresses the nonsense of human violence and wars, but on this occasion, Ballester maintains a ‘living’ element: the flower that was already shown in the original painting, which symbolises hope, and is thus also applicable to the difficult time in which we now live.

In this context, The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao approached long-standing Durst customer Estudios Durero, a company that ‘imagines, creates and develops new forms of graphic production, to print the reworked Picasso on a unique, hand-woven linen material with a special white coating, which was supplied by the museum especially for the assignment. It has a total dimension of  3.5 x 7.8 metres.

Estudios Durero and Ballester spent a day in the Customer Experience Center at the Durst headquarters in Brixen, Italy in order to print the Picasso Guernica interpretation on a Durst Rho 512 six-colour machine – a project that they had to get right the first time, without the luxury of any proofing, as there was only sufficient material available for one print run!

“It has been a true honour for us and for Durst to develop this special project together with José Manuel Ballester and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao,” said Ander Soriano, the owner of Estudios Durero. “No other company could have done it. In Picasso’s original work and in Ballester’s reinterpretation, the painting only uses a very wide range of greys and a very high resolution in all its shades, so the print quality had to be exceptionally high to offer a true value to its reproduction. This is something that would have been impossible without the Durst Rho 512 6 C.”

With reference to Durst, Ballester said: “In order to launch this project, in this context, we have had many collaborators. Using the best technology to realise its creation was a privilege.”

Rafael Carbonell, Managing Director, Durst Iberica, commented: “Estudios Durero has been a loyal customer and it was a real pleasure for us to support the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in this special project. When printing only black, gray, and white the quality needs to be exceptionally high to do the artwork justice.”

Christian Harder, Durst Group’s Head of Graphics, added: “In conjunction with Durst Iberica, we were extremely proud and delighted to welcome José Manuel Ballester and Ander Soriano to our global headquarters where they were able to witness first hand our world-class facilities and technology. The unique linen materials were specially prepared for this art print and the results speak for themselves. The visitors to the museum exhibition have been amazed at the outstanding print quality.”

For further information, visit: www.durst-group.com

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