'The guided hand' by Josefa Tolrà and Madge Gill at the MNAC

The exhibition, which can be visited until November 5, presents and analyzes the unique creativity of two women, the Catalan Josefa Tolrà (1880-1959) and the British Madge Gill (1882-1961).

'The guided hand' by Josefa Tolrà and Madge Gill at the MNAC

We tend to approach contemporary art from the parameters we have learned: we establish chronologies, name the different artistic movements, look for affinities and classify artists based on these coordinates. Stipulating classifications is necessary for us not to get lost in the more individualized creative immensity and to be able to order the creative universe through styles, schemes and groups.

What happens, however, when two creative women wander outside our coordinates, locked in their homes and without contact with the outside world? How do we approach his work from the usual parameters knowing that his motivations were different? The guided hand , an exhibition by the Catalan Josefa Tolrà (Cabrils, 1880-1959) and the British Madge Gill (London, 1882-1961), is an opportunity to review the art of the first half of the 20th century in Europe from other perspectives and recognize ourselves in new aesthetic and ethical accounts of modern culture.

This exhibition, curated by Pilar Bonet, brings together an outstanding number of works by Tolrà and Gill and highlights their biographical, iconographic and technical affinities. Both creators were part of a genealogy of women who, far from the European aesthetic avant-garde, integrated a mystical "rear-guard" from the domestic space. At the same time, none of them considered themselves artists - since they were based on the methodology of the creative act guided by an automatism of the altered state of consciousness -; they were also linked to esoteric knowledge; they had no artistic or literary training; they drew subtle worlds populated by astral presences, and pondered scientific questions. When we compare their works, the similarities are so many and so obvious that it is hard to believe that they were not familiar with each other's work.

Thanks to essential exhibitions like this one, the works of Tolrà and Gill leave marginality to occupy space and readings in important museums. At the same time, they give us the opportunity to review the history of art from other paradigms and new secular spiritualities such as spiritualism or theosophy. Attending to the healing function of art, esoteric knowledge or the experience of an instinctive mystique forces us to leave our coordinates and look at art with completely new glasses in order to be a little less myopic.


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