Guillem Viladot, 100 years

On the 100-year commemoration of the birth of Guillem Viladot, we reproduce the blog post that was published in collaboration with the Private Foundation Guillem Viladot

Viladot Poet. The necessary sublimation

(extracts translated from the article by Josep Miquel Garcia published in magazine Reduccions)

Viladot published a truly extensive literary production, with twenty-five books of narrative, with headpieces such as “Temps d’Estrena” -transl. Premiere time- (1959), “La Cendra” -transl. The ash- (1972), “Ricard” (1977), “Memorial de Na Nona” (1983), “Joana” (1991), “Carles” (1994) o “Ruth” (2000)…, seven children’s tales, two essay books, and his work as a writer in magazine Destino, his section “Finestra Induïda” -transl. Induced Window- in newspaper El Correo Catalan, and the thousands of daily articles in newspaper La Mañana, which he initiated in 1988 and held until a few days before his dead.

Between 1949 and 1952 he wrote what should be his first book. These are short stories …
At the same time that this reencounter with root, Viladot initiates a process of deconstruction of narrative discourse until it reaches Visual Poetry. It all begins with the book “Metaplasmes” -transl. Metaplasms- of 1959, and follows “Urim Tummim” (1959), “El silenci” -transl. The silence- (1960), “IA-URT” (1960), “Comunió General” -transl. General Communion- (1961) and “Blancs Espirituals” -transl. White Spirituals- (1964).

The first series of poems by Guillem Viladot are the «stones» of 1957. The methodology applied is the decontextualization of found objects (river stones) arranged on wooden pedestals, as if they were voluptuous organic sculptures.

… If I worked on this own stuffed literary variant of the discards of literary discourse, I was alone, ignoring styles that prevailed outside. Therefore, my speech was not born of the need to be in tune with foreign preferences or tastes, but came from the subject’s conflict with the established power. In short, it was a question of solving (?) an oedipus situation, or of drawing it up, for the sake of anxiety. …
If I wanted to free myself from power and be myself as a custom individual, in other words free, I had to redeem me from alphabetical order. And so began the body to body, the alphabetical unstructurement, the collapse of the sovereign’s speech.

In 1972 Viladot edited “Diari 72” -transl. Diary ’72-, with offset and black-and-white reproductions of originals made with collages and exact sizes in monochrome reproduction of the book. These originals have more nuances, because the black chromatic collage and toasted colors appear, and the balanced arrangement of apparent senseless uppercase letters.

In 1969, he edited “5 – 1 Lais concrets d’homenatge a Antoni Tàpies” -transl. 5 – 1 specific lays of homage to Antoni Tàpies-. This book is configured by five diagrams prefaced with a prelude and finished with a collage.

In 1970, the “Poemes de la incomunicació” -transl. Poems of uncommunication- appeared. Published in pocketbook format, it collects 29 visual poems prologized with an introduction by Josep Iglesias del Marquet who state that the vowels are the five phonetic pillars. It follows a fragment of the book “La incomunicación” -transl. The uncommunication- by Carlos Castilla del Pino, and another of the “Antologia de la poesia catalana del Segle d’Or” -transl. Golden Age catalan poetry anthology- by Joaquim Marco.

In 1971, he published “Tonada de la vista, de la dita, de la busca i de la troba” -transl. Tune of the sight, the said, the search and the found-. It is a book made in collaboration with Lluís Trepat, who produced 22 original xylographies. Tied and bound with hard covers, included additional etching in some specimens.
The idea of the book is the questioning of the relationship between the images and the words that define them.

The sight and the initial saying relates harmoniously image and text.

I see a tree, and I say it’s a tree,
I see a hen and say it’s a hen,
I see a river and say it’s a river,
I see a mountain and say it’s a mountain,
I see an auto and say it’s an auto,
I see a mirror and say it’s a mirror,
I see a snail and say it’s a snail,
I see a sea and say it’s a sea,
I see a chair and say it’s a chair,
I see a mill and say it’s a mill,
I see a man and say he’s a man.  

Then start the decoupling of icons, in the search and the found:

I’m looking for a tree and I find the root,
I’m looking for the hen and I find the egg,
I’m looking for a river and I find the fountain,
I’m looking for a mountain and I find the plain,
I’m looking for an auto and I find the road,
I’m looking for a mirror and I find the picture,
I’m looking for a snail and I find the rain,
I’m looking for a sea and I find the horizon,
I’m looking for a chair and I find the bottom,
I’m looking for a mill and I find the wind,
I’m looking for a man and I find the story.

In 1971 he also published “Poesia T/47” -transl. Poetry T/47-. It is the first selection of visual poems by Guillem Viladot edited in the form of a paperback book and distribution to bookshops.

The following year he published the “Contrapoemes” -transl. Contrapoems-, a book binded in pocket format that includes twenty poems dedicated to the «Jocs Florals» -transl. Floral Games-, and which are introduced with a phrase by André Breton, drawn from the book “Les pas perdus” -transl. The lost step-:
«I will not justify the typographical arrangement for those who demand an explanation from the poets about their fantasies.»

In his poem “He Bastit” -transl. I have built- from the book “Amor Físic” -transl. Physical love- Viladot writes:

…they have been on the table
Bataille, Foucault, Freud, Nach and, within the fable,
Cooper, Lacan, Laing and an entire cabinet
of women, like Melanie Klein, Segal,
Manoni, Horney, Mitchel and Millet,
vertical woman summaries.

Contact with the from Lleida psychologist Marta Trepat has since 1977 helped to understand this world which intersects aspects such as «narcissism», «exaltation of the body» and human relations.

The discovery of psychoanalysis as a method of knowledge (thanks to psychologist Marta Trepat) served me to unravel the literary discourse of all kinds of servitude to the totems and taboos that governed (and continue to reign) our society. Say what was necessary to say, like a catharsis. The subject was ultimately intended to be found in the same subject with a type of interaction or monologue without palliatives. Not the subject at the summit, at the border, at the other, but at the centre of himself. To achieve internal equilibrium through knowledge of pulsion and desire. Pulsion and desire are present throughout my work as a canvas for a speech that has always been intended inefficiency, i.e. without words.

In 1987, he began a series of works based on musical instruments, mainly wind or with some acoustic variations, such as sound shells or old-grid speakers. … Early works use impossible wind instruments, by incorporating various pieces bundled with copper tubes; instruments for not being touched, which look like useful but which
they alter their function, as a siphon whose spout is a trumpet, or a tap that is a trumpet. The view of these objects triggers a reading to the viewer between irony and absurdity.

Old furniture is still a source of inspiration for the fitting of new compositions from the 1990s. Ornamental moldings, or chair legs or tables volumetry, serve to formulate poetic encounters. The wood as organic material, its natural color or varnishes resembles the well-to-do or bourgeois furniture, the family home, the parents’ home.
Sometimes some interior furniture is elevated on volumetry pedestals, with a past, turn-of-the-century, patina.

One of the material sources that formally shaped an independent series are iron snippets, which appear in 1987, and which experimented prolificly in 1994 and 1996.

«SELF» is one of the complete series of Guillem Viladot, and one of the few that he exhibited as a set. It was in 1998 in the Guinovart Space of Agramunt, and there is a catalogue that reproduces the thirty works that form this illustration project of Lacan’s thesis.
Interested very deeply by psychoanalysis, Viladot found in Lacan’s work a favorite guide.

Ideal of the self

Forced to title his works on the grounds of catalog documentation, we see how the author created these pawns following the lacanian concepts and terminology, such as «self-erotization», «agressivity», «free association», «censorship», «Oedipus complex», «phallic phase», «oral phase», «scission of the self», «phanton», «obsession», «subconscious», «ideal of the self» (an self-portrait of the author represented by a skull with a crown, next to the four volumes of his complete poetic work), «the incest», «the cure», «the death», «the life», «seduction», «analytical condition».
Viladot closed the series with a Lacanian Venus which he also called «Teoria lacaniana dels miralls» -transl. Lacanian theory of mirrors-.

The great French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, says that behind what a word says is what it means. The word has a creative function, because it is the word that makes things tied to concepts. Lacan himself says that when desire is humanized, it is also the time that the child is born in language. And he adds that the word is precisely the ideational mass of the self. What does that mean? This means that in the world of silence that is the person, the word is the burst of the ideas of the self; it is the burst of thought. When nature becomes a culture, anthropologists say it, the word arises.

(extracts translated from the article by Josep Miquel Garcia published in magazine Reduccions, you may consult the full article here)

Garcia, J.M. (2007). Viladot poeta. La sublimació necessària. Reduccions: poetry magazine, No. 87, pp. 96-124.

With the collaboration of Private Foundation Guillem Viladot