_Anular—_the word means to nullify or invalidate—presents a copy of an early Spanish constitution displayed as a single-spaced typewritten manuscript overlaid with Ullán’s short poetic phrases and Tàpies’s cryptic alphabet letters and symbol-like forms. Tàpies’s super-imposed letters, looking like graffiti strewn across the pages, derive from the first character of the poet’s adjacent words. Frequently portions of the text are torn, turned upside-down, or even obscured by Tàpies’s “graffiti,” possibly suggesting a disregard for the constitutional rights of individuals. The overall visual effect produces a sense of contradiction and dissent, while also implying an act of nullification. Tàpies had lived through the many years of Franco’s rule in Spain, and, at the time of the book’s execution, Ullán was living in exile due to his refusal to serve in the military.
As seen in the four-page spread displayed here, each sheet is attached at its left and right edges to the next sheet. The pages are assembled in an accordion fold, making possible various panoramas. Pages can be turned one by one in the conventional manner, revealing a double-page spread; the continuous ensemble can be completely unfolded to show the entirety of text and images; or selected segments can be opened and spread out, as here. The resulting effect of this unusual book format is the creation of a world of words, an ongoing dialogue between painter and poet.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 314.