works on paper: siluetas (silhouettes)

A further key area of Carles Castel’s work are his fascinating siluetas. The silhouettes are created consistently in a mixed technique of ink and watercolour on watercolour paper. The works all show the contour of one or two silhouettes which dominate the image in its centre. On first sight, they recall the art of papercut silhouette portraiture which was widely popular in 18th-century Germany. These paper silhouettes were then collected and exchanged as a token of friendship and connectivity.


At first sight, in painting his silhouettes in dark ink, the artist seems to have aimed directly at evocating this tradition. However, in contrast to the paper silhouettes of the 18th century, Castel’s siluetas were not created from an individual model. Rather, they arose in the artist’s fantasy and thus appear as a shadow of his imagination.

In his formal language, which includes the use of abstract elements, Carles Castel interprets his heads as the centre of real and unreal world perceptions. By contrast to this idea, his profiles are open for permeating light which serves as the source for abstract shapes. In this way, the painted heads, in their seeming perspicacity, leave the realm of everyday experience. Here, the sophisticated colouring should be interpreted as another hint at the artistic inspiration of the artist.

All silhouettes show a high degree of concentration and self-contained absorption. Like sculpted busts, they document a shadow-like presence in the pictorial spaces created for them. Here, in a most sophisticated manner, the painter interprets the space around the centralised silhouettes in a horizontal and a vertical reading.

With abstract, net-like arranged ribbons of colour and colourful enclosures of light, Castel bestows on the heads a stabilising and at the same time invigorating framing. The light, beaming in golden-yellow, comes mostly from behind the heads and serves as a forceful contrast to the head which dominates the centre.


In addition, the artist supplements the silhouettes with elements of nature, drawn in fine, horizontal hatchings. Colourful lights and forms of expression recall lakes, waterfalls, landscapes and trees. While these references to nature can have a soothing and harmonising effect on the spectator,at timesthey also appear to be frightening and nightmarish. They serve as a mirror to the soul sensations and desires of the pictured figure. For example, firm green conifers with strong tree trunks could suggest stability, but the depiction of the branches, arranged tightly and narrowly before and against each other could represent a prison for the white silueta in front of them. The only hope here is the permeating light.

At the same time, the fine, thin drawings of small, humorous creatures or helical sun fabrics grant the pictures an unexpected ease.

The double portraits are of special, awe-inspiring tension. Here, the artist depicts closely positioned silhouettes which are highly differentiated in colour. By placing the figures next or on top of each other, and by showing them as growing out of each other, the painter explores different types of close relationship between two human beings.

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By often positioning both faces as looking out of the picture, the artist prohibits any dialogues between the faces. Carles Castel thus broaches the issue of solitude and of solitude in togetherness which is ever present in our society. His newest silhouettes aspire to the breakup of spaces and forms, pushing towards bright abstraction.

Now, nets of colour are imposed over the silhouettes which are henceforth only hinted at schematically. Thin colour gradients superimposed on the silhouettes in all directions, seemingly spilling out of them, grant the pictures new, sophisticated sensations of space, arriving at a new affirmation of the three-dimensional. Additionally, Carles Castel has started to experiment with new image supports, thus opening new dimensions for his future oeuvre.

text: Felizitas zur Lippe