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Enric Pladevall

By Eudald Camps Photo Yayoi Sawada

At the turn of the century, Enric Pladevall (Vic, 1951) decided to focus all his efforts on creating l’Olivar, a space aiming to blend art and nature in Ventalló at the heart of the Empordà. His life project ( was committed to multiple creative disciplines through integration with the countryside. His tenacity, combined with his restless artistic gaze that does not settle for the immediate, led him to reinforce the initial project with a crypt ( This installation is a corollary to an entire lifetime of projects that often involve an unlikely fusion between a nearly minimalist artistic sensitivity and scenography that flirts with overindulgence when necessary: Pladevall in his purest state.


As Pladevall stated: “Art is inexplicable, but I think it’s intimately linked to energy, emotions, and tensions. I consider art to be a form of knowledge comparable to nature, science, and thought, which simultaneously represents the expression of the artist’s sensibilities.” The formula is powerful: it involves understanding art as a form of knowledge which somehow acts as a counter-image to all other forms of knowledge. The years go by and l’Olivar has been healing wounds and has become part of the landscape: “At the beginning, it was only a big alfalfa field. When I discovered it, I had to make a decision: focus on my artistic career and commit myself to different art galleries abroad or convert this space into my own personal project, into a large-scale landscape sculpture which would become a compendium of everything that I’ve done throughout my life.” Pladevall had to decide whether to continue nourishing the Self or start a process of dissolving into the work and the landscape, something that ultimately takes shape in this crypt which is much more than a sculpture.

Leaving the Self behind

In order to access the Crypt we have to leave our Self behind. Pladevall’s proposal is a regressive and radically anti-modern experience. Barefoot and in absolute silence (the essence of music, according to Cage), we must sign a tacit agreement that provides that kind of relief masterfully described by Borges in Los Conjurados: “The relief that you and I will feel in the moment that precedes death, when fortune releases us from the sad habit of being a person and from the weight of the universe.”

Whether or not it’s a question of fortune, the decisive element is the liberation invoked by the Argentine genius. In other words, what happens when the Self is deferred (and is appeased), perhaps indefinitely, to benefit a widespread consciousness that no longer responds to constricting concepts or to the dictatorship of apparent reality. The “disease” of the Self, Pladevall’s Crypt reminds us, is as ancient as man. In fact, it is the source of multiple forms of dissatisfaction, starting with hatred and anger and ending in apathy and melancholy. In his Lectures on the Aesthetics, Hegel paid close attention to it: “The Self cannot find satisfaction in this enjoyment of itself, rather it must feel that absence, as it experiences the thirst for everything that is firm and substantial. That longing, however, is only the feeling of the unimportance of the empty subject that lacks the strength to be able to escape vanity and to be realized with substantial content.”

That’s why the main attraction of the Crypt is an ancient olive tree. The artist explains: “I've always wanted this crypt to be a song that praises life rather than a funeral monument, because honoring the past is essential to honor life, the present, and the future. This is a space where you can feel the tree's energy. Being with it, you can truly experience its tragic vitality, both physically and emotionally. You can enter into the darkness, feel time and space, and slowly approach the light, the sublime. It is an homage to the World Tree.”

Pladevall has encrypted his dream and, paradoxically, with this gesture he has managed to blend the zenith light into a form of understanding art that is in line with transcendence. It goes without saying that this position today is revolutionary.