Lluís Perez Calvo “Paulí”

Remembering Xavi

pauli_Ceramista-2Towards the end of 1965, at the magically ancient monastery of Cuixà at the foot of the mythical mountain of Canigó, immortalised by our esteemed poet Mossèn Cinto in his epic “Canigó” a group of monks hailing from the monastery of Montserrat of which I formed part arrived and not just to stay, since there was another project brewing. Bit by bit we began to rebuild the ruins of the past, to turn that habitat into a meeting place for all persuasions of ideology, spirit and profession, artists, artisans, intellectuals and refugees from all over the Pyrenees. An especially attractive framework to start, succour and share all kinds of human experience or activity.

Myself, having set up the ceramics workshop at the Montserrat Abbey, found the setting ideal to establish a new studio at Cuixà, this time with a somewhat more ambitious compass, an opportunity for me to further express other techniques in ceramics, enamels and porcelain.

Whether attracted by the aroma of the place, the courses and breaks we were organising in order to experiment with and widen our knowledge of ceramics, the polyphacetic Xavi Caba disembarked with his immense artistic capacity and a calling for research and exploration into the darkest secrets of the world of working and firing clays: the wheel turning, hands shaping, the gas oven transforming vegetable ash into the richest colours and textures, gres tiles, bas-relief, oxides and high-temperature enamels.

The illustrator, the portrait artist, landscape painter and photographer could not get enough. He wanted clays, minerals and fire, wanted eternity, ceramics, that which fire cannot destroy. To work with him was a tremendously enriching experience, united by the same passion, since a natural enthusiasm for the material engendered mutual admiration and respect and a profound, indestructible friendship between us.

I often remember those times at Cuixà, Xavi coinciding with others from Sabadell such as Lluís Clapés, Brunet, Montserrat Girbau and Pilar and how much they enjoyed  those evenings of debate and opinion, shared expertise and complicity, dazzled by Xavi’s contagious good humour.

Years after those moments lived at Cuixà, having returned to Sabadell with Herminia, we were to meet again and pick up where we had left, together with Anna Maria and the rest of the family from Castellar, at his home and studio, and at the exhibitions he often held.

A return to the immensely entertaining conversations, always interesting and agreeable, sometimes with splashes of politics mixed in, much like before though somehow different. What remained unchanged was Xavi’s freedom of thought as well as his interest and command of any theme touched upon with the common denominator of art and our convivial unity.

On visiting the exhibition held in his honor in Castellar, I was again astounded and amazed by the pictorial quality of his enamels and bas-reliefs on display. This is the impression I wish to nurture, an inalienable oeuvre.

Many thanks to you, Xavi – you will live on in my memory.