THE CORE OF PERCEPTION OR HOW PARIS OPENED XAVI’S CABA EYES
Let no-one expect a pondered analysis in this attempt to revive the memory of a friend, whose untimely death can only be considered less than fair. Hence I shall be intuitive by trade and passionate by devotion. A friend is an irreplaceable guide through the labyrinth of life, someone you choose to love. A love with whom to share opinions and viewpoints, a shared pathway.
Born restless and dressed in the loose clothing of liberty, Xavi Caba, feeling beauty all around, needing to restore gaiety and fervor through reading, the colourful voices of his elders, cinema and music was to come across a new life boiling beyond the oppression and dreariness of the time, way beyond the horizon.
Suddenly, his world was too narrow. Castellar del Vallès was too small. Catalunya was also too small. So, laden with bonhomerie and well-bundled good intentions he set off to try his luck in a Paris capable of emptying the sadness of the indignant to refill it with hope. A Paris standard-bearer of art and progress, faithful watchdog over democracy, a city peacefully indulgent towards external cultures, great names in art and literature calling up the aspirations of the upcoming talent, a dream both fresh and disobedient. At that time, the French capital depicted an ideal, an inversion of the adversities of this country. An artist’s dream landscape of civilised adventure. Just a fleeting check through the historical names fleeing their respective countries to adopt the French spirit is more than enough to understand this vital adventure that would carry Xavi Caba off from his native Castellar.
An insaciable curiosity pushed him into expressing himself in as many disciplines as possible. Paris was a particularly decisive factor. The melting pot of a city full of mythical figures fighting amongst themselves to attain the highest recognition meant that all would delve into the most diverse forms of art. Widening the register of expression meant reaching a greater public and crucial elucidation. Xavier understood just that and effortlessly added it to his natural repertoire. Multidisciplinary activity was to play a major role in his creative persona.
I shall not enter the terrain of artistic judgement, that is the experts’ responsibility. I will, however, speak of his inclination to transcribe feelings through a variety of techniques and forms of representation. Cultivating most directly the easel, drawing, illustration and photography, he was oft distracted by serigraphy and lithography. Less directly, as an attentive and participative spectator, he would champion jazz music and cinema. Paris gave him faith in life. The cosmopolitan crossroads leading out in all possible directions would provide exchanges, a direct connection to novelties in art, their delights and disaffection. An ardent campaigner, Caba’s generous heart made inroads into the misty future.
Finally, after no little effort on his part, being able to make a good living from illustration for a number of prestigious publishers such as Livres de Poche, life seemed to take on another shape, a film script, everything happening with an astonishing enthusiasm closer to fantasy than reality. To live in all comfort, sports car included, made him triumphant in a new world, where success was reserved for very few.
But nothing lasts forever. When things started slowing and he decided to come home, Xavi felt he had lost a battle, since to form part of the Parisian elite, especially in those days, was a rare privilege. In reality, the return turned out more fulfilling than expected. He came back to Castellar with both heart and suitcases full of an intense light. He had seen the future with his own eyes, had heard stimulating ideas and knew exactly how to favour his creativity. On arriving home, everything took on a different value for Xavi. The winds of change were agitating the country and a breeze of freedom helped push people to contest the restrictive dictatorship. These were the best years of his life. A sensitive man with a cause, armed with world-wise points of view at his fingertips. With blithe licence rewarded for his time in Paris it was time to knuckle down to realise a burning desire to expess his art by as many means as possible.
Xavier Caba was an honest, sincere, self-made man who as a result was well aware of his virtues and limits. It was precisely this exercise in realism, often put into practice with an open mind, that was his greatest asset. Conscious of the fact that his work was not intended to compete nor to be considered avant-garde, art to him was simply his natural way of feeling and living. Far from innovative proposals, his spirit caused him to search in materials, daily shapes, a wish to possess them finding, as he would say, his own personal means of expression. With simplicity as an ideal and his calling an inspiration, Caba got closer to true happiness than the majority of mortals. His trajectory is not that of a genius attaining the heights of recognition. His art has the prestige of a good man in search of balance through an uncluttered vision and a happy heart, inserted in a modest, close geographical context forming part of a tender community, seeing happiness as his principal aim. Rarely do life and work have so much in common as in the case of Xavier Caba, projecting daily scenes in all the colours of the rainbow. He felt part of all human manifestation, cultures and points of view. For him, it was a matter of being happy by feeling free to say so. “He did what he wanted in the best way that he knew”. This, perhaps is his finest epitaph. An example to us all.