“A chronicle and works by the draughtsman, engraver and sculptor Pla-Narbona” – with no reference to design – is the title of a publication that runs through Pla-Narbona’s career until 1974. As the same long title ran on it elaborated: “works from his beginnings to the present day, compiled, ordered, described and interpreted by Francesc Fontbona and Francesc Miralles, preceded by a prologue from Camilo José Cela and edited by Curial in Barcelona in 1974. In the introduction, both authors offer justification for not having studied Pla-Narbona’s output as a designer due to his work being characterised by incorporating drawings into his works “without subjecting them to subsequent manipulation”.
Indeed, Pla-Narbona’s style is strongly, yet not exclusively, based on the use of drawing and diverse artistic techniques – watercolour, oil painting, sculpture. His poster on Easter Week in Seville or the logo for the Sala Gaspar are executed using a collage technique and are composed from strips of black paper. Yet in other cases, such as the heading on the newspaper “TeleXpres”, the brand of the Group of Graphic artists from FAD or the brand logo for Industrias Cosmo, his artistic language is purely that of a graphic artist.
The monograph spans Pla-Narbona’s professional career, from his education phase (1951–60) to, as outlined in the Contents with decidedly Planarbonesque humour, the “partition phase” (1970–74), unequivocally coinciding with the assessment that Fontbona and Miralles apply to Pla-Narbona’s work as an artist “who follows a solitary path: forging his own language, evolving and refining his own forms. A whole separate story”.
In a 24.5 x 32.5 cm format, printed by Industrias Gráficas Casamajó in one sole black ink on lightly off-white paper and with photographs of Vil-Masip, this monograph is of particular interest since it displays the work of a brilliant designer – “the Picasso of design”, in Enric Jardí’s view – whereby his interest in foreign but not remote disciplines of design shine through, as does a privileged relationship with esteemed writers and personalities like Camilo José Cela and Juan Rof Carballo.