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Antoni Miró, artist of desire and witness of the real word

Fernando Castro

Being an artist nowadays is no longer based on belief that one plays a sacred or social role. Neither does it involve serenely occupying a place in the bourgeois pantheon of ‘Mankind’s Leading Lights’. Rather, bereft of any priestly function, the artist finds that every work entails a personal struggle with the various aspects of modern subjectivism. These aspects are: ideological weariness; a bad social conscience; the allure and the repulsion of engaging in ‘easy art’; the burden of responsibility; the artist’s endless choice between a solitary existence and gregariousness.1

In Heideggerian terms, we have to accept the loss of the world’s image2 or, in other words, we have to accept (without melancholy) that we have lost the experience of ‘the whole’.3 Here, one needs to recall that painting is a catastrophe4 or at the very least recognise the symptoms of what is happening to us. Hegel demanded of the sensitive nature of painting, within ‘the outer limits’ of colouring, to work Art’s magic; Art presents “embodiment, by treating colours in such a way as to play with appearances while lacking the object itself (objektloses), which represents the highest peak of colouring, an inter-mingling of colourings (ein Ineinander von Färbungen) in which the illusion of reflections reveals yet other appearances that become so fine, so fleeting and bound up with moods that they venture into the realm of music.5 Antoni Miró deploys an impressive “chronicle of reality”6 and is a passionate, committed artist7 who always draws on his roots.8 This can be seen in the new La Base exhibition area in València’s La Marina district, opened in 2018. Here, we can see an impressive display of these very roots, the key works of this Alcoi-born artist: the faces of political and cultural celebrities, political demonstrations, male and female nudes, figures clad in burkas, and bridges. The works link politics and eroticism, making us blush.

Antoni Miró’s paintings interweave erotic dreams with the clarity of daily life. Lacan stresses “eliding the gaze in the waking state”. When gazing at something while awake, what we behold is — as it were — abstracted, put in brackets. If painting concerns what we gaze at — and not solely things that have to be seen — then there is a greater problem and perhaps even an aporia. To truly look at a painting, one would have to do so in one’s sleep — something that is clearly impossible. Art’s mission may be to reveal what is diaphanous.9 Potential colour should not be understood in an abstract sense; the diaphanous is the medium (between the object and the eye) of what is visible. Aristotle went further by saying that the diaphanous is also the vehicle of the visible world and part and parcel of how it works. Bodies are susceptible to being coloured precisely to the extent that the diaphanous passes through them, expanding the turbulence of desire, having the same effect as Antoni Miró’s nudes. Colour, wrote Aristotle, is “what is visible by itself” (to épi tôn kath’auto oratôn): both the surface of what is visible and its covering, its revelation, even what comes afterwards (its après-coup). Antoni Miró, following tradition in aesthetics, is convinced that colours convey the feeling of the living.10

Antoni Miró knows that a painting may be able to formulate this enigma — that is, to condense an endless string of metaphors and leave their interpretations open. John Berger stated, “I believe that one looks at paintings in the hope of discovering a secret — one that is not about art but rather about life. If one does, it remains a secret because it is one that cannot be put into words. The most one can do through words is to sketch a very rough map giving an idea of how one can find the secret”.11 For decades now, Antoni Miró in his own unique way has passionately defended figuration by mapping the world we live in, deeply aware that we need images, recalling the iconoclastic assumption that within an image, there is nothing to hang on to.12 Boris Groys argues that in the modern world, there are two ways of creating and presenting a work of art to the public: as a good or as an instrument of political propaganda. Antoni Miró’s fecund artistic career13 has avoided both falling into propagandistic discourse on the one hand and succumbing to the ‘terminal’, banal art that is so commonplace nowadays. His work draws on the artist’s deep political commitment, which I strongly believe removes his oeuvre from the frivolity and aesthetic fads that make opportunistic use of a fake radicalism. Antoni Miró’s stylistic approaches initially had to do with artistic mobilisation against the hegemony of Informalism,14 leading to the recovery of figurative art. Here, one should recall that the thread running through the informalist aesthetic was the expression of material and an interweaving of texture and structure,15 produced by a kind of metaphysical yearning stemming from lack of communication or — perhaps more accurately — awareness of the European crisis.16 There was a diffuse existentialism in the informalist approach which, together with the affirmation of the subject and consideration of painting as an act, was manifested as a defence of gestural truth.17 Antoni Miró, like other artists of his generation, reacted against the hegemony of Informalism by recovering figurative approaches that forged links with Pop Art to come up with critical insights on contemporary culture.

From his first artistic activities with Grup Alcoiart18 and his social criticism actions with Gruppo Denunzia,19 it was clear that Antoni Miró pursued neither a formalist discourse nor an aesthetic that sought refuge from the conflicts of the modern world. On the contrary, his artistic work expressed opposition and resistance to the statu quo. Godard said that it was not a question of showing true things but rather of showing how things truly were, drawing on what Brecht in 1935 termed the five difficulties in writing the truth. Godard’s re-interpretation yielded the following points: (1) intelligence and faithfulness; (2) the moral of tragedy; (3) the sense of urgency; (4) the desire for experience; (5) the courage of saintliness. For Brecht, the author of Mother Courage, realism in art also meant realism beyond the artistic realm. The Passion of the Real persists in Contemporary Art in general and in Antoni Miró’s work in particular after this quest (so typical of both Surrealism and Avant-Gardism) for a “convulsive beauty”; our desobramiento [rejection of taking any kind of action] may simply be a continuation of materialist thinking — and atheist as well, luckily — is something that leads to a de-sacralisation of art works and even a deconstruction of the romantic notion of the artist.20 In a period marked by the biopolitics of fear,21 in which various authorities have announced ‘the end of ideologies’, certain artistic processes try to capture living on the edge, taking a new look at the sense of community from the perspective of the fragile dimension of corporeality.

In Antoni Miró, this approach can be likened to a palimpsest. I think of this artist as a ‘narrator’ in the sense of someone who is localised, making use of what is close to hand (painting materials, things from everyday life, memories and the imagination foreshadowing the artistic journey). In the welter of contemporary events, one cannot maintain a kind of idealised eternity that is enshrined in the form of myths. At one extreme, the face of Death has changed: “This change is apparently the same that made it harder to communicate experience and consequently, the end of the narrative art”.22 Life in this modern age goes on in a kind of strange post-disaster temporal frame in which a succession of aftershocks are interspersed with yawning chasms. The crisis in the forms of representation is revealed in a process of secularisation that eclipses the epic aspect of truth. In his essay on Leskov, Benjamin took the decadence of narration for granted, and its replacement by the experience contained in novels, and of the latter by an obsession with news. Unlike narration, which comes from afar, news covers what is close-by and tells no memorable tales. In his intense works, Antoni Miró beholds historic events and identity-based processes. In doing so, he takes into account both political manifestations and bodies awakening desire, assuming (in keeping with Nihilism’s tenets) that sexuality is the linchpin of a world dealing with ‘The Death of God’,23 trusting that the artist’s palette is largely found in the flesh.24

Antoni Miró’s critical realism has clear links with the Crónica de la Realidad (Chronicle of Reality) artistic trend but it also has distinctive features, bearing on social issues, transforming what is gleaned from the outside world and the media landscape to come up with a visual critique of the way things are.25 Pop Art marked a watershed in modernity by questioning the frontier between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture traced by the cultural mandarins. Above all, Pop Art drew attention to the decisive nature of consumption, goods, the mass media, and metropolitan centres in our lives. Pop Art is the most intense movement in consolidating the cultural system of mass communication and articulating it as a whole: “Formalist research, and committed and rupturist themes are replaced by art reproduction and the expressive resources of the new culture. This brings about marked cross-fertilisation between the mass media, advertising, industrial design, and art”.26 Pop Art is characterised by: (a) the combination of various languages; (b) the opposition or alterations of images vis-à-vis their natural contexts; (c) parody; (d) the suppression of the elements represented; (e) condensing: (f) fragmentation; (g) serialisation; (h) repetition; (i) the omission of the subject whether in part or in whole. In American Pop Art, especially in the case of artists such as Warhol and Lichtenstein, there was never any criticism of society in general and their works present the statu quo found in Late Capitalism, albeit without great enthusiasm. Theirs was a neutral perspective that was to transform ways of looking at things and judging them. Spanish Pop Art, specifically its remarkably successful Valencian variant, distanced itself from the ‘contemporised’ form of the genre by using irony and parody to question both politics in Late Francoist Spain (which was a repressive regime until the dictator’s dying breath) and taking a deconstructionalist stance to The History of Art.

Arthur Danto noted the need to distinguish between the end of The History of Art27 and the death of painting, basing the latter on the processes apparently stemming from an unquestionable logic of history. Yet with regard to the ‘great narratives’ (legitimising Modernism), he noted that these had fallen into discredit because they were blindly based on wholly undemonstrable premises of historical determinism. This questioning of forms of representation — this plague of the imaginary which Artaud so brilliantly characterised as filo de lo imposible [the brink of the impossible] — affected everything seeking defence of the ‘historical testimonial’ in the face of the onslaught from a new media empire. In addition, the new forms of aesthetic experience were unveiled by several studies on the institutional dimension, emerging from the acute awareness that everything we had worshipped as cultural heritage was also a kind of fetishism writ large. Painting was also affected by this dismantling of “classical ways of looking at things” and went beyond the issue of abstract versus figurative forms28 given that many of the contaminating trends affected two-dimensional art. In any event, it seemed unreasonable to continue with the tired argument that photography had led to “the death of painting”.29 This was because not even the contemporary state of photography and its drift towards an “expanded field”30 could justify that prejudice any longer. Here, one should note that Antoni Miró took advantage of photography to nurture his passion for painting. In doing so, he created an aesthetic that was historical in every sense, making one wonder whether he was unconsciously approaching the Heideggerian notion of a work of art as an authentic historical beginning.31

Among the antagonisms characterising our age, perhaps the one playing a key role is that between abstraction (which is increasingly influential in our lives) and the flood of semi-specific images. If we see abstraction as a gradual self-discovery of the material bases of art in a singular process of depictorialisation,32 we will grasp that this process is the kernel of the modern. There are big gaps between: (1) Epic Modernism (exemplified, in the case of painting, by Abstract American Expressionism); (2) Nihilistic Gestualism (shown by European Informalism at various junctures); (3) the new forms of abstraction emerging in the wake of Conceptual Dematerialisation; (4) Minimalism and the crisis in the Great Narratives in the context of Post-Modernism. We can no longer ‘legitimise’ painting practice from Pollock’s drip technique as the manifestation of an energy that must be controlled.33 Behind the painting, there is nothing else and of course there is no model of a vision of something like Nature.34 In a setting of a fierce struggle between images, it is obvious that painting needs to renew itself without fetishising the means chosen to achieve this goal. One needs to face up to the challenges in dealing both with technique and the crisis of ‘meaning’35 — something that Antoni Miró so lucidly does. Yet one also needs to avoid becoming a ‘cosmopolitan snob’ in the process, seizing on everything foreign just for the sake of it and to absurdly denigrate one’s own heritage as somehow ‘folkloric’ and lacking in value. At a moment of imagined globalisation one needs to learn how to think in local terms without narrowing one’s vision or shunning ambitious artistic projects.

José María Iglesias stressed the Valencian nature of Antoni Miró’s36 critical figuration in every sense, who understood that ideological premises needed to be applied to painting. Antoni Miró’s crónica de la realidad [chronicle of reality] has points in common with Social Realism but is distinct from it. Here, one should recall that Social Realism was officially declared the ‘only style’ by the First Soviet Writers Congress in 1934, which considered it a natural continuation of Russia’s radical tradition. 19th Century revolutionaries such as Nikolai Chernyshevsky, author of Aesthetic Relations of Art to Reality (1853) and Lenin’s favourite novel What Is to Be Done? (1863) had elevated realistic art to the status of a moral imperative: the artist’s duty was to interpret, reflect, and change reality. Neither Marx nor Engels described in any detail the role art should play in the revolutionary process, or the themes Revolutionary Art should depict, or even who it should represent. Nevertheless, in their occasional remarks on 19th Century art and literature, they indicated a preference for realism. Ernst Fischer noted that “In a world in which Man’s consciousness lags behind the nature of things, a mistake by an electronic brain, the slightest mechanical failure, the foolishness or imprudence of a bomber pilot can cause unimaginable catastrophes, hence the need to be better informed than ever about the real world. The language of journalists, propagandists, and politicians are no longer enough to give a clear idea of reality. One needs to overcome men’s widespread feeling of helplessness to convince them that they can change their destinies. This task requires efforts by artists, poets, and writers, whose representations and evocations of reality are the stuff of art”.37 Antoni Miró took this urgent need for artistic intervention seriously in the social context to make his paintings into ones that that pricked the conscience of the beholder. That is why his oeuvre politicises the popular imaginary to stop a drift towards totalitarian ideas however ‘mild’ they may seem at first sight.

A work of art must not merely be an empty space but rather should make a ‘noise’38 especially when seeking to achieve the remarkable exactitude one sees in Antoni Miró’s works. For Italo Calvino, this exactitude requires three things: (1) a well-designed and thought-out work; (2) the evocation of sharp, incisive, memorable images; (3) a highly precise language capable of expressing nuances of thought and imagination. Although it seems paradoxical, this exactitude appears to be linked to both a certain indetermination and to an almost mystical belief that “God is in the details”. Understanding exactitude obliges us to speak of the infinite and of the cosmos until we lapse into Flaubertian extremes. Calvino argued that exactitude is a matter of order and disorder, a crystalisation of what Piaget called order in noise: “Entropy dooms the universe to heat death but within this irreversible process, there may be zones of order, bits of what exist that tend to take a certain form, yielding vantage points from which one can see a plan, a perspective”.39 In large measure, exactitude gives depth to the surface, revealing the structure, turning the skin of the work into a mirror held up to the beholder. Antoni Miró always tries to ensure that his figuration is not a mere reflection of the real world because he wants his work to create a sense of mystery. In other words, the meaning of his works is not merely framed in documentary terms.

It may be that ‘Propaganda Art’ is an oxymoron.40 As I have indicated, Antoni Miró does not turn art into an ‘orthodox programme’, he is not an artist who is trapped by what is given but rather has the ability to fictionalise and to turn the imaginary into something real.41 He shows a clear symbolic willingness42 to grasp the nature of our world. “Antoni Miró — notes Wences Rambla — delves into the reality of events while altering — this is one of the keys to his artistic approach — the relationship with himself as the person perceiving reality, the goals of his works, and how he presents events to the beholder. This allows Miró to show real-world events that we more or less know about through other channels (TV, Press, radio, ) in a different light and in the order proposed by the painter”.43 Antoni Miró broadens the collage principle44 in his trans-media quest for truth, the artist’s sharp eye, combining formal subtlety with scathing ideological vigour.

As Hannah Arendt said, all we need to do is keep our eyes open, “to know whether what we see is a pile of rubble”. The task of the intellectual and the artist is basically to conquer a piece of humanity.

A work of art must be able to come up with a “tellable story” to pave the way for talking to others. Antoni Miró is clearly an artist who tackles the disinformation found in the modern world by creating a discourse that bears critical witness to today’s issue. Yet he does so without losing sight of the dynamics of history, focusing his gaze from a Valencian standpoint.

Manuel Vicent notes that “If painting is the recreation of the world through shapes and colours, the world Antoni Miró has created throughout his artistic career is a wide one that is Protean in nature. It covers everything from sex to politics, from a Pop interpretation of The History of Art, sarcastic mockery of leaders, monuments, and events, and the transformation of everyday objects, machines, and belongings into visual poetry. Antoni Miró’s perspective is so open that it is hard to find a standpoint that sums up all his artistic sensibilities”.45 Miró’s works reveal an artist with his own way of looking at things.46 Román de la Calle says that the artist achieves this through key strategies ranging from the idiosyncratic to the typical.47 His paintings provide ways of making a critical halt in the helter-skelter of events as an exercise in collective learning. It is only by stopping to think that we can begin to write our own history. Although we may think that we live in a country of lotus-eaters, we need to be on our guard against a rhetorical, banal version of that ‘History’ — something that Nietzsche warned against in the second of his Untimely Contemplations [Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen] and that he saw as the cause of a malaise symptomised by cynicism. Going beyond the “commemoration craze”,48 we can begin to recall things in another way. Román de la Calle adds that the artist constructs images from other images but “while still invoking a whole mental archive of gestures, formal and symbolic memories that serve as one’s own knowledge hoard. Nothing here is strictly mechanical because, as Nelson Goodman recalls, any effective representations or descriptions of the real world require action. A host of elements are distinguished from one another yet are intertwined with and shed light on the others”.49 When the whole world has been museified,50 we paradoxically suffer a crisis of memory and that is why we need to battle against the ‘the policy of forgetting’ and trace (as Antoni Miró does in his pictorial imaginary) the historical forces affecting us.

Making art of history leads to an art that is aware of the radical distance separating it from what it imitates. The “painting of modern life” is considered revolutionary. Thus the picture of the street-makers manning the barricades — Courbet’s political exposition of realism — involves taking into account ‘outside thought’, something that Foucault recalls is inherent in all art. Each history reconstructs its own scene. As Benjamin noted in 1940, the work of the historian becomes political as soon as it involves “appropriating a memory in a moment of danger”.51 The same anachronism — this meeting between the present and memory — is the only thing that can give us ‘a ray of hope’ in ‘dark times’ (which now threaten with more than ever).

Antoni Miró appropriates events but he does so not to put our conscience to rest but rather to foster critical agitation. “Antoni Miró is a painter who is committed to his cultural identity — which stems from the Baroque archetype that is so strongly present in Valencian culture, and that ends in Pop Art and Social Realism. Antoni Miró’s oeuvre — which often takes on a grotesque, unsettling, satirical tone — is Valencian through and through. Its purposes are de-mystification and denunciation, which are served by the extraordinary quality of the artist’s drawing and the brilliance of his images”.52 The common ideological and aesthetic thread running through Miró’s works is the artist’s defence of The Valencian Country.53

Antoni Miró’s series on The Water Tribunal [Tribunal de les Aigües] must be seen as yet another example of his concern for Valencian culture and traditions.54 Here, one should recall that in 2008 UNESCO declared The Water Tribunal to be Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind. The Tribunal is a consent-based body that deals with water claims and allocations among irrigation farmers in the Valencian Irrigation Association. The Water Tribunal’s meetings are held every Thursday at The Apostles Gate of Valencia Cathedral. The hearings are oral and are held are wholly in Valencian. The institution’s origins go back to either the Roman era or later to the Arab Caliphate around 960 A.D.55 What interests Antoni Miró is not only the notion of a popular institution dispensing Justice but also the communal and even ‘Republican’ character of the Tribunal so beautifully described by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez in his novel La barraca. The proceedings begin with the call made by the Bailiff (“Standing accused of the drought of …”) and quickly go on to establish guilt or innocence in each of the disputes. The Water Bailiff is the protagonist of one of the canvases [L’Alguatzil] painted by Miró. The work features the Bailiff’s harpoon-like staff and forms part of the Tribunal de les Aigües sub-series.

Forming part of Miró’s series on The Water Tribunal, the work exemplifies the importance of gestures in his works.56 Here, I am thinking of the look in La visita and the subtly nuanced hand gesture made by the central character. Looking from the Casa Vestuari [Robing Chamber], with the doors thrown wide open, reveals the brilliantly white sunlit scene outside. Antoni Miró depicts the key scenes of this Water Tribunal, showing Els síndics [magistrates] walking down a red-carpeted staircase. They are all self-confident, grey-haired elders.

One of the most impressive works in this sub-series is the painting titled El cercat [The Enclosure] in which the Tribunal has been constituted, with a crowd waiting on its judgements. Miró paints the public attending this ‘rite’ in a hazy, ghostly white tone in order to focus on the protagonists of the event enshrining Valencia’s heritage. As noted earlier, the Tribunal’s deliberations are oral, short and to the point. The painter concentrates on elements such as the young man charged with El trasllat [the transfer], architectural details, and the Valencian flag. There is also a view of the statues of The Apostles in the Cathedral (to which Miró dedicates three superb graphic works and a painting) and the attractive Gate where the Water Tribunal sits.

Leonardo da Vinci, in discussing the double nature of the image based on its form, develops a theory to explain it. According to him, painting “is not living yet nevertheless expresses living objects”. Antoni Miró shows the vitality of The Water Tribunal, underlining the importance of gestures to encapsulate the idea that politics rests on a certain aesthetic regime (that is to say, a set of perceptions and feelings). Yet the series not only shows the Tribunal at The Apostles Gate but also includes pictures of the villages of Quart-Benàger, Mestalla, and Mislata with impressive red-flowering shrubs and the shadows cast by trees on the other bank of the irrigation ditch. There is also the fascinating treatment of the still waters in Molí Daroquí. Arc romà and Moros i francs reveal the work of both Man and Nature, while the water in Repartiment seems to flow over the lower edge of the frame, drawing the viewer’s gaze into the picture.

In the painting titled El Tribunal, we see the relaxed magistrates with folded hands conveying a sense of calm. In Espectació, the crowds of tourists watching the deliberations are the protagonists. Many of the onlookers have cameras or smart phones in their hands. The reality that is built up layer by layer in Antoni Miró’s works is usually filtered through the media or cameras. Today’s lightning-fast images and snapshots are pictorially slowed down in a way that casts a spell to make the events memorable. According to Barthes, “In the past, photography bore witness to a vanished past and thus was imbued with nostalgia. The photo was, as it were, the last witness of the subject in relation to the object, a posthumous challenge to the welter of synthesised digital images that were to come. The relationship between the image and its physical source raises a host of problems concerning representation. Yet when the source of the image has vanished, we can no longer speak of representation. When the real object fades away in the technical programming of the image, when the image is nothing but an artefact and reflects nobody and nothing, when there is no ‘negative’, can we still speak of an image? It will not be long before our images vanish altogether and their consumption becomes virtual”.57 Reality is not underpinned by a fantasy but rather by an inconsistent flood of fantasies that give our experience of events an apparent continuity and make them more palpable.

The representative device transforms strength into power58 and one of Antoni Miró’s goals in painting Tribunal de les Aigües was to represent a community in which opinions were given with democratic frankness. Political struggle usually arises from suffering inflicted by injustice, leading us to mobilise to defend democracy. To a large extent, Antoni Miró’s critical painting reveals the need to find hope.59 As Jacques Rancière put it, “Historical time not only affects collective destinies. It is one in which anyone and anything forges history and bears witness to it. The wax masks of those executed by firing squad in Tres de mayo [by Goya] were a response to the rosy cheeks of Goya’s The Milkmaid of Bordeaux [La lechera de Burdeos]. The promise of emancipation is one in which everyone can bask in the sun and enjoy witnessing history as it unfolds”.60 Perhaps this ‘sunshine’, this ray of hope is also enshrined in the water flowing through the irrigation ditches depicted by Miró as a symbol of the fair distribution of goods. The Tribunal de les Aigües series is yet one more example of the artist’s lasting interest in conveying just images. One feels this when looking at El corralet [The Enclosure], with its empty seats. This, after all, is where the just men — the magistrates — sit to resolve conflicts between irrigation farmers. When The Water Tribunal sits, the magistrates are surrounded by crowds who — though they may not realise it — are seeing a manifestation of an ideal community. Antoni Miró painted the old Rovella [sluice gate] with the idea that it not only lets waters flow through the irrigation ditches but also reminds us that culture is a path to freedom.61

Antoni Miró refuses to dismiss the injustices of the world as accidental or trivial. That is because he knows that such attitudes are used as ways to marginalise and impoverish people, and are symptomatic of a system that is doomed. Instead, Miró sees that art needs to be critical and honest in facing up to conflicts even if this is limited to conveying unsettling presences. Yet this does not mean that art should merely recite a litany of woes, heralding the end of civilisation. Rather, Miró’s goal is to create a new kind of committed art in an world that for all its apparent diversity, is one that is subject to great homogenising pressures. David Rico noted that the captured image — almost a snapshot of a given moment in our history — is immortalised and transformed by Antoni Miró, who in a certain sense ‘traps’ those images that are on the brink of falling into oblivion.62

“Realism — argues Antoni Miró — is an accumulation of abstractions. Here, abstraction consists of unidentified fragments of reality and of which we are largely unaware”.63 The desire for Einfühlung [empathy] as part of aesthetic experience is satisfied by the beauty of what is organic. Worringer notes that, “The quest for abstraction finds beauty in what is inorganic and a negation of life, in what is crystalline or, to put it more broadly, that which subjects everything to an abstract law and need”.64 We know the arbitrary, creative power of imitation to spawn worlds teeming with life. Widespread imitation can create worlds that are wholly disconnected from the real one: such worlds are ordered, stable and illusory. “This ‘mythical-poetical’ power is precisely what makes them so fascinating. If there are hidden truths to be discovered, one cannot rely on imitative approaches to bring them to light”.65 Imitative action is self-realising, it triggers positive feedbacks yet it embodies a singular underlying ambivalence that may lead to uncertainty. Antoni Miró employs an aesthetic that might be termed term critical realism. It bears witness in a continuous process of schematisation, focusing on events of communitarian interest.

The community, stated Maurice Blanchot, is that which “includes the externality of the person it excludes — an externality that thought does not dominate”.66 A community is not the sum of its parts but rather lies in its members’ sharing. Jean-Luc Nancy warns that loss is part of a community, which is to say we exist within a dynamic and when we seek something that is ‘finished’, what we actually find is a deconstructed reality.

Today’s society is nothing more than a conspiracy by the rich to achieve their own ends under the pretext of organising society: “I can have no other notion of all the other governments that I see or know, than that they are a conspiracy of the rich, who, on pretence of managing the public, only pursue their private ends, and devise all the ways and arts they can find out; first, that they may, without danger, preserve all that they have so ill-acquired, and then, that they may engage the poor to toil and labour for them at as low rates as possible, and oppress them as much as they please; and if they can but prevail to get these contrivances established by the show of public authority, which is considered as the representative of the whole people, then they are accounted laws; yet these wicked men, after they have, by a most insatiable covetousness, divided that among themselves with which all the rest might have been well supplied”. Although this may seem a perfect description of the here and now, it is actually a quotation from Thomas More’s Utopia, which was written over five hundred years ago.67

Antoni Miró does not sweeten reality; his gaze at the world is not an invitation to the sublime. On the contrary, when he thinks of the city, he does not look at it solely through the rose-tinted glasses of a tourist but rather reveals the place the deprived occupy in it.68 In my essay for the catalogue of a sample of Antoni Miró’s works at IVAM,69 I covered, among other things, the series this artist painted on the homeless — a series that starkly contrasts with the vision given by museums. This mixture of cultural memory and the experiences of the homeless reveal the intensity of this Valencian artist’s critical imaginary. One of the most intense series presented at La Base exhibition is pinturas de manifestación [paintings of demonstrations] produced over the last few years. For this series, Antoni Miró used photos of political demonstrations to come up with a new vision of popular indignation and popular protest. The artist has an uncanny knack for pricking the collective conscience70 by giving the works a Utopian tint, which in turn expresses confidence that a strategy based on popular resistance can give rise to a better society. Antoni Miró is always keenly aware of the critical dynamics of the society in which he lives. That is why he is so interested in the social movements that have made the biggest impact of late. Going beyond the end of history post-modernist discourse, we are seeing both an (atheist) resurrection of bodies and a return of rebellions whose goal is to trigger historical change. From the revolts of The Arab Spring to the camp-out in Madrid’s Plaza del Sol and the Occupy Wall Street movement, there is a rising tide of popular indignation worldwide. The cruel consequences of austerity policies have led to a re-politicisation of the social body.71

José Corredor-Matheos noted that Antoni Miró’s `Cartesian will’ leads him to squeeze as much as he can out of his themes. Unfortunately, injustice is endless. Antoni Miró takes sides through his discerning gaze at the world around us. He knows that his task is not to merely imitate events but rather to offer emancipating criticisms;72 Miró’s art employs an aesthetic that is replete with details and precision, and that is served up in anger,73 revealing an innate rebelliousness. Through his works, we become aware of the disaster that is today’s world. Miró’s plural gaze forces us to understand the crisis that we are living through, with the artist pressing home his ideas through direct messages and just images.74 In so many images yet in so few words, Antoni Miró states his mission as: “To reflect today’s problems”.

Antoni Miró’s oeuvre reminds us that we have to face history75 by taking civic references as our starting point, always seeking to understand what worries us. One has to cast off melancholy and in these depressing times, regain the vigour of critical thought. If we must be ‘nostalgic’, it should be for the future, not the past. At a time of blatant de-democratisation (revealed by what Christian Salmon terms “a lack of self-rule”), Antoni Miró’s works always show political commitment — that is to say, they are characterised by sensitivity to the conflicts of our time and robustly defend justice.76

On the one hand, Antoni Miró has highlighted those pushed to the fringes of society, using both irony and indignation to show that the world is on the wrong path.77 On the other hand, he also pays homage to those individuals whose political integrity and cultural greatness have left their mark. The sinister facelessness of women who are forced to wear burkas is captured by the funerary overtones and visual anonymity of the women depicted in a series in which the following benchmark figures also appear: Miquel Martí i Pol; Josep Pla; Salvat-Papasseit; Joan Fuster; Joan Coromines; Rafael Alberti; Salvador Espriu; Jordi Valor; Joan Valls; Isabel-Clara Simó; Vicent Andrés Estellés; Manuel Sanchis Guarner; Raimon; Ovidi Montllor; Leo Ferré; Maria del Mar Bonet; Enric Valor; Antoni Tàpies; Puig Antich; Salvador Allende; Karl Marx; Pablo Picasso; Salvador Dalí; Che Guevara; Lluís Companys; Antonio Gades; Antoni Gaudí; Sigmund Freud; Miguel Hernández; Pau Casals. In the final analysis, these portraits are of individuals whom Antoni Miró greatly admires for their political and cultural contributions78 in fostering a Catalan national consciousness. Also for being international figures with contributions which range from criticism of political economy and its mutation into Communism’s founding ideology to exploration of the unconscious through psychoanalysis, and the heroic strategy of The Cuban Revolution. As Isabel-Clara Simó has noted, Antoni Miró’s art forges a link that: “instead of focusing on the artist, delves into our precarious, anguished dignity as a people”.79 Miró is a master at unsettling the collective conscience80 by giving the works a Utopian tint, which in turn expresses confidence that a strategy based on popular resistance can give rise to a better society. These are objects/subjects of admiration,81 historic figures that have fought for justice.82

There is no reason to pin one’s hope on something as absurd and surrealist as “recovery of market confidence” when we have seen the resort to wholly unjustifiable strategies such as the State bail-out of private banks that were mainly to blame for inflating the financial bubble. What makes things even worse is that some are trying to foist the cruel lie on us that the markets are somehow neutral. Perhaps the financial crisis will serve as a kind of shock therapy that will lead to a rise in populism or to the people’s wrath seen of late in mass demonstrations.83 These are precisely the acts of insubordination that Antoni Miró has painted with such enthusiasm.

Maybe what is happening is simply the dismantling of the last remains of the so-called Welfare State. At the same time, distraction tactics are being used to ensure that those to blame for the financial crisis get off scot-free. It is likely the culprits will soon be up to their old tricks, leading us to the next financial disaster. The fact is, The Ship of State is adrift on the high seas. Financial speculators take on unimaginable risks, knowing that the State will swiftly step in to cover their losses but will leave their huge profits untouched. Never before has a bunch of jumped-up incompetents received such vast ‘rewards’ (aka bonuses) for such bad behaviour. In Miró’s works, one can clearly read the banners, the slogans, and the reasons for popular fury on issues such as defending public education, national and cultural identity, feminism and independentism — all of them demands for democracy and justice in the face of the Police State.

With his usual lucidity, Zizek’s monumental book In Defence of Lost Causes diagnoses the malaise and the Fukuyama-style efforts to lull us into apathy with the ‘end of ideologies’ discourse”.84 He traces, without peddling an apocalyptic vision, the prospect of populist conservatism nurtured by today’s economic woes. Even though we try to shut our eyes to grim reality, at the moment we are ideologically stuck with the idea that democracy is based on utter disheartenment. From Berlusconi to Kung-Fu Panda, from Starbucks ‘fun’ marketing to ‘toxic subjects’, the depressing horizon recalls one of Mao’s sayings: “Everything under the sun is in utter chaos so things could not be better”. Antoni Miró takes his images from the mass media, highlights popular indignation, and accentuates the important scenes.85 The painting process is a slow one that might be likened to sedimentation — something that contrasts with the short-lasting coverage of stories in the media as information speeds towards total oblivion.86

We are suffering from the symptoms of information overload. There is simply too much information in our modern world and there is no way of restoring trust (this is a need we esoterically consign to ‘markets’) or of knowing on the brink of which catastrophe we are teetering. As Christian Salmon puts it, “Now is the time to acknowledge that the all-present mass media of our masters leads to more bodging than control, more wittering than results, in a foolish obsession with a depoliticised arena, whereby the political sphere shrinks and the traditional centres of power shift to other places: Brussels, Washington, or Wall Street”.87 Victor Klemperer noted in relation to The Third Reich that the required style turned everyone into a charlatan agitator. Neo-Liberal fairytales are a mish-mash of idle musings, blunders, and outright lies after disaster strikes or at best bitter acknowledgement that ‘the message has not struck home’ when defeat looms. The narrativisation of politics has unleashed a spate of comments (tending to over-interpretation) while the soaring number of narratives undermines the narrator’s credibility. ‘Turncoat’ falls a long way short in describing the behaviour of modern politicians who, like The Vicar of Bray, systematically break their vows/promises whenever it suits them. Such unethical conduct has now become par for the course.

The Mobilising State tries to ensure emotions run high. The campaign must not fall flat, which is why it gives scope for assemblies to vent their ‘indignation’. The September 11 attacks in The United States are the subject of an extraordinary polyptych by the artist, ushering in a new century of “real-time terror”. The work incorporates a host of anecdotes in a kind of metastasis of the story. Coincidentally, Bush is reading the story backwards, his dumbfounded face constituting another ‘Ground Zero’, the best photo in a short-circuited tale. Christian Salmon warns that we are in a world without stories. As Peter Guber (producer of films such as Midnight Express and Batman) puts it, “I have even seen a plasma screen perched on top of a urinal”.88 For those suffering from ‘Duchampitis’ [ref. to Duchamp’s The Fountain], this post-ready-made vision has a (meta)ironic touch. Yet this tale for insomniacs is as unsatisfying as zapping — one of Bin Laden’s vices was searching for pictures of himself on the world’s TV stations. To some extent, the real has been displaced by simulations. Yet despite Baudrillard’s rhetorical twists and turns, The Gulf War did take place, the body of the world’s most wanted terrorist was not photographed, and the (improbable) revolution of the ideal subject in a totalitarian State is one that will not be televised. Antoni Miró resists ‘post-modern levity’ and is unwilling to ‘buy’ all the hype on ‘global entrepreneurship’. On the contrary, his imaginary is radically modern and the promises of emancipation held out by The Enlightenment run like a thread through his work even though yesterday’s utopias lie in ruins.

Waste is the main product of modern and post-modern industrial Capitalism. Jacques-Alain Miller argues that: “We are post-modern beings because we realise that all our aesthetically attractive consumer goods will end up as junk that will turn the world into a vast wasteland. We have lost a sense of tragedy and we see progress as pointless”. For far too long, we have accepted both the pressures of politicians telling us that there is nothing wrong, and of police exhortations to ‘move along’ (whether peacefully or at the end of a truncheon). The result is that we have become used to living in the energy-sapping doldrums. To some extent, this resignation is embodied in the proto-punk slogan “No Future”. Going beyond the logic of ‘entrepreneurship’ and its spin-offs (foreshadowing the bubble economy and the fraud it represents), one should note that the apocalyptic tone can be transformed thus: If the plebs try to come up with solutions, they are denied them straight away, for as the chief nihilists of the Comité Invisible in L’Insurrection qui vient [The Coming Revolution] put it, “The future has no future”.89 Yet people did turn up at Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Madrid’s Puerta del Sol to show their rejection of the statu quo. Others quickly slated the indignados as “fringe anti-system groups”. The demonstrators were labelled as youths who had nothing in common with the rebels of the 1960s but who were driven by an almost perverse wish to keep The Welfare State and be part of it, who were keen to belong to a ‘Nanny State’ that gave them social entitlements and a steady job in a society eschewing uncertainty. The worst hacks — or the guests stuffing TV panel shows — went further and denied that precarious employment (and joblessness) lay at the root of the protests. Nobody expected anything would come of the demonstrations yet something decisive happened.90 The Spanish Revolution is neither a media invention nor a flash mob; the indignation and the global protest it sparked led to it being named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine. Among other things, the radicalism of the indignados stemmed from the conviction that democracy was on the slide, evading its principles and shifting away from the notion of popular sovereignty. Negri and Hardt have pondered on the planetary nature of the crisis in popular representation and the corruption of democratic forms. They insisted that the masses needed scope to express their views whether through constitutive power arrangements: a biopolitics springing from “utter chaos”91 produced by exceptional circumstances.

The democratic subject, arising from the violent abstraction of all his roots and personal ends, is a Lacanian subject remote from pleasure or, more precisely at odds with it. Revolt exists only as the gesture spawning revolt itself and comes into being at a given place and time. Jean-Luc Nancy considers that democratic politics involves periodic returns to the brink of revolt. In his book Introduction to Metaphysics [Einführung in die Metaphysik], Martin Heidegger writes, “What is violent and what is creative reveal what is unsaid, it penetrates what is unthought, it responds to what has never happened or been seen, and always resists the danger. […] That is why he who resorts to violence ignores consideration and conciliation (in the ordinary sense), the appeasement and the placation that bring success, prestige, or self-affirmation. […] For such an individual, disaster is both a deeper and broader ‘Yes’ to what cannot be contained. […] Acknowledging and resisting the constant pressure exerted by daily entrapment means resorting to violence. This act of violence takes one down a path that leads away from humanity, the familiar, and habit”.92 Antoni Miró paints demonstration scenes because he sees in them the absolute dignity of citizens and is convinced that rebellion springs from widespread political corruption, from mass apathy on the brink of catastrophe, and from the general senselessness of an exceptional event that cannot be understood as the prolongation of the illegal violence giving rise to it. This viewpoint is shared by theorists such as Carl Schmitt and Walter Benjamin in their formulations on The Rule of Law. Saint-Just asked what those wanting neither Virtue nor Terror really desired. His answer was ‘corruption’ and is highly relevant to today’s world and is another name one can give to the defeat of the political subject. In his book In Defence of Lost Causes, Slavoj Zizek writes “One often hears complaints about the growing apathy of voters, about the decline in popular participation in politics. Worried Liberals keep banging on about the need to mobilise people through Civil Society initiatives to boost participation in political life. However, when people awake from their political lethargy, it tends to be through popular right-wing revolt. It is thus little wonder that many enlightened Liberal technocrats ask themselves whether the former ‘apathy’ was not a blessing in disguise”.93 We have heard the message that “things cannot go on like this” ad nauseam — this is the ideology of the intolerable, which is even worse than “repressive tolerance”.

Perhaps we need to go back to thinking of an art of existence in the sense meant by Foucault in his L’Histoire de la sexualité [The History of Sexuality] and at least take up again certain stylistic criteria implying enlightened resistance to the powers that be. Here, one should remember that systematic criticism of authority requires a praxis rooted in self-transformation. We recall that posing questions is the hallmark of a “critical attitude” and is a virtue. Foucault in his text “What is Criticism?” asks “How can one not be governed thus, for this reason, in the name of these principles, in the light of those goals, and through these procedures, not this way, not for this purpose, not for them?”94 The art of not being governed in this way and at this price has a simple, no-nonsense name: resistance. Accordingly to Antonio Negri, resistance is what allows one to mix difference and creativity. In La fábrica de porcelana, Negri asked “How can one take the right to resistance into account and the right to demand more or less radical changes to the political and constitutional system?”95 It is hard to say what will happen with “destructuring struggles” in a new radical democratic praxis and “exercise of common rights”. The right to pose such questions is rooted in both ethical and aesthetic considerations because the refusal to accept what an authority states as truthful goes to the heart of the anti-authoritarian style. Foucault argues that “Criticism is the art of voluntary non-servitude, of reflexive defiance [l’indocilité réfléchie]”.96 Criticism tends to play a key role in de-subjection [désassujetissement] in a game one might call a ‘policy of truth’. Our liberty is at stake and one needs to go all out to break one’s bonds. Judith Butler argues that “It is an act of courage that involves acting without any guarantee of success and puts the individual at risk”.97 Indignation and non-servitude mean we must abandon our routine judgements and adopt a riskier praxis that calls for artistic skills in applying pressure. In Negri’s view, the gathering of a multitude involves “a common creative element”, agitation based on a singular issue given the lack of decision-making. Here, one only needs to think of the anger, disorder, disputes, and background noise “that we experience or the weight of repressive trends in the most banal aspects of daily life”.98 The common decision is always a matter of serendipity, a clinamen [a chance event], a change of course and a break with the glacial inertia — the “nothing will happen” syndrome — that holds us spellbound until, like the Coyote in Looney Tunes, we find ourselves running on thin air unaware of the impending plunge into the canyon below.

One of Michel Foucault’s last texts was written in May 1979 on The Iranian Revolution. It was titled “Useless to Revolt?” [Inutile de se soulever?]. He argued that in the final analysis, the decision whether to rebel is something that cannot be explained: “the man who rebels is finally inexplicable; it takes a wrenching-away that interrupts the flow of history, and its long chains of reasons, for a man to be able, “really,” to prefer the risk of death to the certainty of having to obey”.99 We do not need an “iron self-discipline”, especially when we are hardly aware of the subjection we suffer. We do not stand before a tabula rasa of ignorance or the immanence that Platonov called ‘a peasant utopia’ in his novel Chevengur. We see the indignation depicted in Antoni Miró’s pictorial ‘sedimentations’, in which public squares are the places of a set of extraordinary (but not catastrophic) events. I daresay that 15-M (named after a demonstration on the 15th of May 2011) was necessary or, put another way, was a symptomatic turning point whose feedback created the need. The mere gesture of withdrawing participation in the legitimation ritual placed State Power on the brink of the precipice. The event expressing popular indignation might be thought of as the production of a space and an art based on subtraction.100 At last, processes emerged in Spain that demanded a re-politicisation of public space, forms of ‘civil disobedience’ which, as I have noted, are viewed with complicit passion by Antoni Miró, who considers Art as the seismographic trace of events.

Yet, as Negri suggests, there are analogies between Art and Revolution, for example Kunstwollen [the desire for art] stems from surplus social forces that may find various outlets. We read in Negri and Hardt’s Common Wealth that: “The revolts against the dominant political system, its career politicians, and its illegitimate representation structures do not seek to restore past, supposedly legitimate, forms of representation. Rather, their goal is to experiment with new forms of democratic expression: real democracy now. How can we turn indignation and rebellion into a lasting constitutive process? How can we turn democratic experiments into constitutive power, not just to democratise a public square or a district but rather by inventing an alternative society that is truly democratic?”101 These questions spread through the crowds and obliged artists to position themselves in a moment in which the ‘virtuous’ Post-Fordism explored by Paolo Virno,102 gave way to semi-slavery. Antoni Miró rose to this challenge with both enthusiasm and lucidity.

The wave of indignation was not mere ‘fireworks’ nor could it be aesthetically channelled even though it was full of sym-bolic capital or, more accurately, it embodied an attitude that we term the art of insubordination.103 When resistance is also seen in the rebels’ expressive behaviour (as is the case with the Occupy movement),104 we have to think of critical elements and aesthetic-symbolic processes that literally give body to the collective disobedience in order to stop everything “vanishing into thin air”. To a large extent, Antoni Miró’s series on demonstrations both seeks to bear witness to the dynamics of social protest against blatantly unfair policies, and to aesthetically ‘sediment’ the memory of ways of articulating communities.

As Joan Fuster noted in the mid-1970s, Antoni Miró is “tumultuously alive”, Protean, and driven by deep social concern.105 When I think of the host of paintings, graphic works, and sculptures he has created throughout his life, this artist meets Hegel’s auto-activity criterion of an oeuvre.106 Antoni Miró does not justify the world as “real-rational” but rather radically criticises the notion of ‘historical progress’.107 This view is captured in his ‘bicycle’ series with the fantasy of bike wheels spinning in a archaeological dimension to spirit us to a brighter, better future.108 Throughout his artistic career, Antoni Miró has given a highly unconventional meaning to beauty,109 and that is shot through with the presence of things that are undesirable, unjust, and that tarnish supposed ‘historic’ splendour. He is convinced that beauty is far from being static: “For Antoni Miró, beauty is above all a spirit of transformation”.110 Both his paintings on a journey to Greece and the erotic series based on scenes from Greek pottery allude to a tension between ruin and pleasure. His modern take on classic iconography111 alludes to the ‘contamination’ we have to try to survive with dignity.

Violence, which occurs in eroticism, spells the dissolution and destruction of the closed individual, and is the normal state of affairs for those taking part in the game. One extreme form of violence is nudity, which is a paradoxical state of communication or, more accurately, a pathetic ceremony that takes the individual from the human state to the animal one: “The decisive action is to strip naked. Nudity opposes a closed state (that is, a discontinuous existence). It is a state of communication that reveals the quest for continuity beyond oneself. Bodies open up to continuity through those secret behaviours that give us a feeling of obscenity. Here, obscenity is the dissolution of the state in which bodies enshrine a lasting, affirmed individuality”.112 Antoni Miró constantly considers the desire awoken by the body, whether it be in the artist’s intense Suite Havana or in the new series of male and female nudes. Freud, in an essay written in 1907, stated that obsession is the compulsive repetition of a ritual that fails to attain its goal. In society, we remain fearful of contact with the body — which is to say the bodies of others because one’s own body belongs to another in relation to one’s inner self. Freud wrote “A force is needed to give cohesion to the masses and that force is none other than Eros, which ensures the unity and cohesion of everything that exists in the world?” Antonio Miró’s eroticism has something of the caressing gaze about it, the adoration of the beauty of bodies, the ‘compulsive repetition’ of the passionate moment.

This artist, who always paints at night, takes a journey of desire in which he moves from naked bodies to political demonstrations expressing outrage, and to bridges that enshrine a historic commitment to constructive hope. The special temporal aspect of the adventure and journey pass through what is known as a movement of attraction to the infinite, creating a place on whose threshold the artist seeks to resolve the enigma of what is possible. “For an adventurous man, the contemporaneity of ‘doing’ is almost as posthumous as ‘done’. More than contemporary, the adventure is linked to the extemporaneous nature of improvisation”.113 It seems that the certainty of the path gives way in the travellers adventure to the unforeseen, which is why any adventure is tempting, irresistible, and eccentric. There is a deep link between the adventurer, the traveller, and the artist in the form of mixtures of chance and fragments, and in the special way they approach life: “It is precisely because a work of art and an adventure are set against life, they are analogies to life as a whole, presenting themselves in a brief compendium and in the concentrated experience of dreams”.114 In a profound sense, all adventures are erotic because they postulate a meeting, a moment that unleashes passion even when one is aware how fleeting and tragic it may prove. There can be no doubt that Antoni Miró’s journey between the erotic and politics remits us to the artist’s key drivers, his roots (les seues bases).

In Antoni Miró’s brilliant art, I find a singular strangeness to the body — something similar to what Lacan called extimité (that is to say, the opposite of intimateness) — a complex process that deeply links us to ‘The Thing’ (Das Ding),115 which has to do with both the anticipation of sexual pleasure and the feeling of despoliation produced by nakedness.116 We know that desire may arise from indetermination, the unsayable, or even from the uncertainty of reaching one’s goal (destinerrancia). “Thus — writes Derrida — as with death, I believe in the unsayable — something I also call destinerrancia by which I mean the chance that a gesture will miss its mark, an expression of desire may wither and die before it can be carried out”.117 Desire is a mixture of enjoyment and insatisfaction that cannot be resolved in the form of an “essential absence”; yet it is certain that all drives are virtual expressions of Death. Here, Antoni Miró’s visions are fascinating examples of the desires that exorcise what is ‘traumatic’.

In his erotic canvases, Antoni Miró imposes a corporal forcefulness that unleashes desire. In his ‘bridges’ series in the setting of Alcoi, he questions contemporary experience as a non-place, a starting point from which he establishes various individual states: flight; fear; the intensity of experience; rebellion. A sense of alienation has invaded us for some time now — something that need not necessarily be emotionally wrenching for the feeling may be cause for happiness.118 It seems that a journey abroad is now almost impossible,119 an activity of another era. Yet despite this discouraging situation of ‘general mobilisation’, Antoni Miró seeks through his works to create an affective landscape, ‘sedimenting’ desires and places in his canvases, and employing carefully choreographed steps to reveal the beauty of nudity or to lay bare manifestations of rebellion that shake us out of our political lethargy.

The bridges Antoni Miró paints provide a new reading of the sublime that goes beyond the conventions of Romanticism. The sublime may just be a modern way of naming catharsis’ tragic trigger, the moment in which the manifestation of the terrible and the subjective exaltation of the spirit merge.120 Here, one should bear in mind that the Romantic sublime stemmed not only from the pain and powerlessness felt in the face of the apparent pointlessness of existence and the concomitant revelation of “the subject’s limitless freedom”121 but also from the resort to solitude in a last-ditch effort to glimpse the absolute. Yet one should also recall that a generation of North American Abstract Expressionists spoke of the need to rescue the mystical in painting,122 and at the same time experimentally traced the interpretation of the concept of the sublime as the embodiment of the lofty and of the terrible in Longinus. Nietzche123 — as Barnett Newman notes — was to again take up the subject of the terrible in his quest for absolute emotions.124 For Antoni Miró, the sublime is not to be found in splashes of colour or in ‘modernist’ gestures but rather in human construction — something that saves Man from the abysm and forges links that serve in the quest to make the world a better place.

We recall that Adolf Loos in his controversial text Ornament and Crime [Ornement et Crime] (1908) stated that ornament is an epidemic that enslaves Man, a trap and therefore a sign of aesthetic and moral degradation — in a word, a ‘crime’. He argued that ornament “greatly prejudices Man, harming his health, ruining the national heritage and perverting cultural evolution”. Loos added that cultural development meant the elimination of ornament and, referring to modernity, he stated: “What is great about our age is that it is incapable of creating new ornamentation”. Le Corbusier also railed against decoration.125 The moderns had to seek a pure aesthetic to purge art both of what they termed façadism and everything that — drawing an analogy with the skin — smacked of tattooing. Antoni Miró reclaims what we might call critical ornamentalism in his paintings, examples being: beautiful bridges that reveal how Man is capable of linking two river banks; women under their burkas and the splendour of naked skin; the courage of demonstrators. It is worth bearing in mind that the effectiveness of art is linked to a certain self-referencing tendency. According to Alfred Gell, the surfaces of an object become animated when its decorative motifs are able to carry out “an intricate dance before our eyes if we let them”.126 Ornaments have no other purpose than to grab one’s attention yet, as we have seen, this is the Medusa-like nature of images. Ornamentation boosts the efficacy of objects, imposing a differentiating aesthetic which, as Deleuze notes, is a dynamic process in the growth of a motif “comprising areas of varying intensity”.127

An object is neither simple nor something that can be conquered if one has not previously lost it: “An object is always a reconquest. Only if one recovers a place that was formerly abandoned can Man grasp something closer to the whole”.128 According to Lacan, the key term when referring to the makeup of an object is privation, which is another way of recognising an absolute Other with whom the word rests. A metaphor stems from the use of meaning and from substitution, not from establishing connections (which is the realm of metonymy).129 In a nutshell, the make-up of an object is not metaphoric but metonymic, and is to be found where the story stops: the veil, as in Antoni Miró’s impressive burka series, manifests itself by its absence, hinting at repression.

For the sake of argument, we should assume the subject is split, that is to say, it requires a unification of the ego. In more topological terms, the subject is split not between an ego and another, or between two contents but rather in the division between something and nothing — between identification on the one hand and the void on the other. “Decentering first assigns ambiguity, the swing between symbolic identification and the imaginary — to doubts about where the true key lies — in one’s ‘real me’ or in one’s external mask. Here, there is a chance that one’s mask may prove ‘more real’ than the ‘true face’ it conceals”.130 In a certain sense, decentering (as opposed to the Cartesian notion of a central consciousness that provides subjectivity’s focus) is a way of identifying the void. Painting, even when localised, is unhinged. “The time is out of joint mourns Hamlet, the world is going to pot and is worn. Old or young, neither matter to a world whose age is beyond our ken — we simply lack its measure. […] The time is out of joint — as Hamlet theatrically puts it as he grapples with the stage that is the world, history, and politics. The world — It wears, sir, as it grows — says the Painter in the opening of Timon of Athens131 (a play much to Marx’s liking). The painter speaks as if of a play or of a painting. In this disjointed time, the painting we have termed hybrid is an unidentified object, banal though that may sound. In short, we can think of painting as superfluous, something that is utterly useless132 but that nevertheless offers places for contemplation. As Michel Serres warned in his book Atlas, we have to find a new transit-place where the real and virtual maps are constantly folded and superimposed.133 The painter scarcely has time to map this frontier — all he can do is cast his net in an effort to trap uncertainty.

Marshall Berman characterises modernity thus: “Being modern is finding a setting that beguiles one with promises of adventure, power, joy, growth, and transformation of ourselves and of the world. Yet at the same time, it is something that threatens to destroy everything that we have, know, and are”.134 It would be a Herculean task to define painting’s current historical mission, supposing that it has one.135 Pontormo, in his letter to Benedetto Carchi, stated that “Painting is nothing more than a piece of cotton spun in Hell, that lasts but a short time and is cheap: nobody notices if one peels off the thin film [quello ricciolino] covering it”. Yet despite all the caveats, painting remains one of art’s most intense dreams,136 with all kinds of obsessions and visual riches being captured on the canvas as if in a kind of back-projection of destiny (whether individual or collective). “Life recalls that there is no memory of birth”.137 Greatly simplifying matters, what images seek is to appear. The potlatch [gift-giving feast] I find in Antoni Miró’s work bridges the erotic and the political to interweave desire and outrage. The visual wealth in his work draws on processes for dynamising the surfaces in “a lively, exuberant return to truth”.138 The relationship between art and truth is necessarily an indirect one,139 and goes beyond mimicry, and painting what is considered ‘proper’ (that is, mediocre). As Josep Sou notes, Antoni Miró is an “immensely generous artist”140 who believes that “one should never stop demonstrating141, and he always remains faithful to his sources of inspiration.142 Always in his roots.

We live in an ever faster-moving world, “buffeted between kitsch and shock”.143 When the same mix has been turned into a commodity that is the stuff of reality shows, there is a slide towards the pathetic, with subjects being consumed at a greater pace, and with art being reduced to little more than DIY. Those artists consumed by the world’s madness are themselves driven mad.144 Contemporary art reinvents nullity, insignificance, the absurd, laying a claim to nullity that is itself null and void: “Nullity is a quality that cannot be claimed by any Tom, Dick, or Harry. Insignificance, the true, overwhelming challenge to sense, throwing commonsense to the winds, the art of senselessness is an exceptional quality found in rare works that few artists wish to emulate”.145 We live in an age that bombards us with a welter of images in which Black Mirror dystopias end up becoming part of daily life. Against the tsunami of viral trivia and the pornographic treatment of images, Antoni Miró proposes an aesthetic that paradoxically links nudity and what is veiled, reflecting the artist’s belief that pleasure is most often found in complexity.

The return of painting — or its mutation — in the 1990s was marked by a series of ideological perversions146 to use a phrase that some label post-critical.147 Artists, after a post-modern interlude, have had to learn to play in the complex ‘spheres’ comprising the world.148 If painting has an intrinsic power in its own field, it is the ability to go beyond the restraints of representation. The sabotage is committed between look and glance, in a nod towards pleasure in which the painter places a body on a two-dimensional surface (whether flat or raised): “The body may be eclipsed by its representations; it can vanish like a god in the abundance of its attributes but it does so through its invisible musculature, not through an inward-looking gaze”.149 What Antoni Miró seeks is the incarnation of a painting (and thus its critical witnessing of reality) as a pretext for a pure form150 that satisfies the desire to create a resting-place for the beholder’s gaze.

“The solitary painter is adept at controlling the picture from outside, finding a place for it, letting it ‘settle in’ — a task that involves some trial and error”.151 What painting deals with or — more accurately — approximates to is the figuration of absence.152 For a painter such as Antoni Miró, painting at night is vital to ensure that the desire evoked by bodies, the places, actions, and story in the work all remain visible. When darkness reigns outside, this passionate artist feels lit by (as Matisse put it), a painting’s ‘suns’.153 Miró always keeps the unsettling events of our age firmly in view, refusing to rest until he has achieved his goals. His paintings, like all good works of art, end up being something more than “just a simple image” because they depict a reality that we can never fully grasp.154

As Michaux (the artist driven not to leave ‘traces’) put it, a painting is a bit like a crime scene. That is because the artist leaves traces of his work and these are neither wholly apparent nor completely erased. Our age is one in which we may have taken exile too lightly in the face of an ideologically-driven virtualisation of the world. Here, there are various subtle indications that we are drifting when it comes to being creative: “We leave traces everywhere — virus, errors, germs, catastrophes — all signs of Man’s imperfection at the heart of this artificial world”.155 A work of art acts like a veil, whose purpose is to capture the imagination, create a place of desire, and to forge a link with the other-world. “It involves descending to the imaginary plane of the subject-object-other world — a plane that is key to the symbolic relationship. Put another way, the purpose of the veil is to allow intermediate projection of the object”.156 Antoni Miró never hides reality but rather uses his art to intensify our experience of time.157

Few artists are capable of overcoming the narcolepsy of the show so that they can use the right tones or horizon to provide the intensity needed to take us beyond ourselves to the brink of madness (in the positive sense of aesthetic experience). What is extraordinary is that so much art has been reduced to pathetic fetishes or to deconstructivist formulations that reveal nothing except an obsession with interpreting everything under the sun. Man’s ability to marvel at what is shoved under his nose seems to have limits. Were this not so, we would marvel at our commonest thought patterns. “The bread is on the table”, we would cry both when bread was placed before us and to illustrate grammar, without hearing how odd and distant our words seemed. If everything is so extraordinarily ordinary and someone were to chance upon something really exceptional and transfixing, we would call him a madman. The doctors would concur with our diagnosis, muttering Psychasthenia and we would add “He said the bread was on the table”. Yet the Gauls lived in constant fear that the sky was about to fall on their heads. A naughty child can be kept spellbound and silent with tales of The Ogre. Likewise, poets weary of the public’s disdain may suddenly loose awe-inspiring thunderbolts. What is truly marvellous emerges when the laughter subsides. No, the bread is not on the table and furthermore, it is not bread”.158 We need to recover — as Antoni Miró has done — the ability to incarnate symbols159 That is because giving free rein to our our desire to interpret dreams only ends up destroying them.160

In Beyond The Pleasure Principle [Jenseits des Lustprinzips], Freud notes that consciousness stems from the mark left by memory, which is to say the death drive [Der Todestrieb] and the waning of the life drive [Der Lebenstrieb]. After being fully interpreted, all dreams are revealed as satisfying a desire, that is, every dream is an hallucination of an unconscious desire.161 “The creation of symbols yields a partial understanding of all the body’s impulses and desires repressed in waking life. It is a kind of compromise — a partial liberation from everyday life, a return to a childhood heaven in which “everything is permitted”, in this case by realising one’s desires through dreams. The biological state of the organism can be likened to a partial return to a foetal state. From birth onwards, we unconsciously re-stage this pre-birth state. We are naked, we raise our knees and bow our heads, we hide in the folds of the bedsheets, we take up a foetal position, our bodies switch off from all external stimuli and influences, and when we sleep, our dreams partially restore the realm of the pleasure principle”.162 The dream holds us in its thrall, leading us to the brink of the sublime and rare, and of tenderness — a hangover from the memory of the womb. There is a deep truth here and it is that which Plato defended in the dream experience163 as a way of throwing off the shackles of everyday life. There is undoubtedly a ‘knot’ or labyrinthine structure that makes it hard to get a clear vision of the dream — something that Freud himself noted when he stated that the unknown is the navel of dreams and is something that lies beyond the dry calculations of the intellectual world.164

A fossilising strategy has imposed what Baudrillard calls the trans-ethics of banality in which art works literally become objects of superstition,165 and creative processes turn into little more than hasty choices of a souvenir. Against this background, it is high time to review the meaning of art. Such a review can be likened to a journey into one’s inner self to discover a line of resistance against the fuzzy aestheticisation typifying today’s pervasive showmanship. Antoni Miró resists the drift of our age. After nihilism (which prefers nothing to something), art hides its impotence behind cynical irony to mask its abysmal disillusionment. Such art is far removed from “aesthetic asceticism for it neither represses instant gratification166 nor does it seek to remove the power of fantasy exercised by ‘the unknown’. The artist cannot reveal truth about art without concealing it, thereby turning the unveiling into an artistic manifestation. The process starts with denial [Verneinung] but de-banalisation (what Russian Formalists called ostranenia) leads to the re-emergence of powerful fantasy. The enigmatic enshrines a notable density of metaphors that are linked or combined in impossible ways, producing a pot-pourri of literal and figurative meanings.167 The pathos of the hidden is linked to the surrealist notion of the imaginary as a plane (or if you will, a dissection table) in which one finds the radically heterogeneous. In effect, the surrealist image à la Lautremont sparks the creative process and plays a part in Antoni Miró’s artistic creation, leading to an expanded metaphorism. We can see this as a wunderblock,168 a magic notepad on which anything that has ever left a trace is recorded. Marina Tsvetaeva asks: “What is art if it is not finding lost things, the perpetuation of losses?”169 This sincere effort to achieve the impossible170 emerges time and time again in Antoni Miró’s works, which do not focus merely on ‘novelties’171 but rather on paintings that build up his dreams and desires in an almost sedimentary fashion.

In the conclusions of an article titled “Visual Studies and Global Imagination”, Susan Buck-Morss wrote: “The image-world is the surface of globalization. It is our shared world. Impoverished, dim, superficial, this image surface is all we have of shared experience. Otherwise we do not share a world. The task is not to get behind the image surface but to stretch it, enrich it, give it definition, give it time. A new culture opens here upon the line.” Despite the disaster that is our world, artists draw strength from the forces of weakness — something that is clearly so in Antoni Miró’s case.

We are saturated with what Clark called the practice of negation, understood as a conscious defence of clumsiness and a celebration of insignificance.172 The pretexts, the excuses, and the weakest of justifications no longer wash and the feeling one is left with is what Virilio terms picnolepsia (brought on by déjà vu). Contemporary artists are patently ambiguous on this score so it is hard to know whether the excuses are symptoms of semiotic resistance, decadent revolutionary posturing, or gestures of theatralising cynicism that have replaced any kind of critical strategy. Radicalism ends up becoming parody, abstraction drifts into self-satisfied ornamentalism, and conceptualisation often reveals sheer ideological impotence.

Even so, “It is hard to believe the repeated warnings that ‘The End is Nigh’, especially when those making them have settled down comfortably in their respective institutions. Much of the activity that was thought potentially subversive — mainly because it held out the prospect of unsaleable art — is now wholly academic”.173 Compulsive fetishisation (accompanied by the mixing of processes) now borders on parody. One should recall that one cannot perform a convincing intellectual parody without having earlier experimented with what one seeks to poke fun at, which is to say “without having either held or coveted the position that is being parodied.” The fact is, parody requires a certain ability to identify with and approach one’s subject: it implies an intimate knowledge of what is being misappropriated. It involves changing one’s voice, position, and behaviour to the point where the audience or reader no longer have the foggiest idea where they stand, whether they have swapped sides or stayed on the same one, whether they should stick to what they know or adopt another position without falling flat on their faces by doing so”,174 Parody exhibits a relationship between desire and ambivalence. When it comes to plagiarism, the proliferation of styles seems to be nothing more than a pathetic longing for fame, a desperate wish to become famous at any cost, no matter how fleeting that fame may prove. Finally, when one’s career is on the slide, one can always resort to irony to provide an alibi for being a has-been.175

When all cultural creation seems intended to make the biggest impact and to become instantly dated, one might begin to speak of the degeneration implicit in the democratisation of art and, in the final analysis, of a failure to recognise excellence.176 We are trapped in a strategy that fosters parody; we are fascinated by the ease offered by mannerism, and we are unwilling to run the risks of taking a more poetic approach to aesthetics. It is against this sombre background that artists such as Antoni Miró are a ray of hope, removed as they are from the dynamics of curatorial trends (which are no more than a banal media-posing mish-mash that Susan Sontag dismissed as camp). Artists like Miró are still capable of using painting as a channel for intense expression, and he slows down events so that we have time to think about them. This is invaluable in our ‘show culture’ age in which ‘news’ is over-abundant, trivialising, and short-lived.177 The basic resistance offered by art stems from dialectic imagination, fixing our gaze. This century’s goal is not ruin but rather to wipe out all traces of the past. Should it succeed, we shall never again be able to weave a story from the threads of memory and oblivion.178 The traces that remain speak ambivalently both of what is superfluous and of what is lacking. Desire always tends to elude the question and take other paths. Again and again, the Nietzschean image — that of the advancing desert — springs to mind, a disaster that may yet give rise to another kind of poetry.179

The insistence on the corporal scale is what shapes experience of the sublime in the paintings of this Valencian artist. That is because Miró is well-acquainted with the middle ground — a field of vision that is neither too close nor too far away from the beholder:180 The colossal aspect of nature (the primaeval pit) constantly leads back to rational schemes.181 Schelling noted that terror lurks at life’s roots. The unravelling of life and a glimpse of the pit gives us an inkling of the monster that lies at creation’s heart — a beast that is neither human nor understandable but that is hinted at by art when we are shown the chasm. While the subject experiencing the sublime is a powerless witness,182 he may still draw something amorphous from the artistic dimension, something maybe like the Khôra in the Timaeus. Art begins as the touch of absent desire183 — a gesture that tries to catch the shadow of both absence and a yearning for return, mirroring belief in ever-lasting passion. It was of this shadow (in the form of the mythical love story, distance, and melancholy) of which Pliny The Elder wrote in his Natural History [Naturalis Historia] as the whimsical origin of painting. Foucault in his work The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences [Les mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines] noted that thought is never present and accessible by itself. Hence our desire for “painted representation” (which though never reveals the man). For Man’s experience to take form, a body is provided as part of a special, hard-to-fathom space but which ties in with awareness of the finite, the end of metaphysics as an infinite unfolding of causal concatenations. One could argue that Man and the unthought-of are contemporaneous — at least in archaeological terms. The unthought-of is not genetically hard-wired into Man or the outcome of a well-bedded (or ‘sedimented’) history. Rather, it stems from Man’s relations with The Other in a duality that might be likened to having a twin, a helpless doppelganger. Foucault posited that Man is a recent invention revealing the archaeology of our thought. While the waning of language may mean “that we can now only think of the void left by Man”,184 this gives scope for rethinking how the subject is created and the micro-physical network spawning knowledge, desire, and reality. “Maybe the biggest issue is that life as we know it has ceased to exist but that nobody can yet grasp what has taken its place”.185

The painter explores this banished corporeal being, arousing, binding and unbinding the canvas’ surface, trying figurative fragments, fixing gestures, entering spheres in which abstraction is criss-crossed by sense-certainty. The thought-in-body of the painting is rhythmic, timed like a heartbeat whose pace is almost erotic, constituting a force that marks the world’s tempo. We recall Freud’s characterisation of the artist (which he based on his analysis of Michelangelo) as a man who avoids reality because he cannot renounce his drives or hide his fantasies in shaping objects to give aesthetic pleasure. Seduction’s reward is none other than being able to take pleasure from one’s obsessions without shame or fear of reproach. Painting is the art of bodies because it only knows the skin. “Another name for the local colour is Carnation [flesh]. Carnation is the great challenge posed by the millions of bodies found in paintings, as opposed to incarnation, in which the body is filled with The Spirit. Here, Carnation conveys the rhythm, colour, frequency, and nuance of a real place and event”.186 When our most private pleasure is publicly revealed, we blush and wish that the ground would swallow us. Put another way (and forcing the metaphor somewhat), the excessive carnation shown in faces also mirrors a wish to return to the womb (that ‘maternal abysm’), perhaps because what the artist seeks in the midst of metamorphic corporal events187 is a space in which desire (however odd) no longer needs to be hidden. One has to be ready to listen for the unusual but one also needs to try to touch the body to incorporate sense — something that Antoni Miró achieves through the carnation in his paintings. The use of sense acknowledges the bearing of the figure, revealing how pleasure mainly arises from touch (something one can metaphorically do through one’s gaze or thoughts). “Touching the interruption of sense — said Jean-Luc Nancy — is something that interests me in this business about the body”.188 Thanks to painting among other things, we see bodies as the visible giving consent:189 the canvas looks outwards, it is skin, surface appearance. “The body is the experience of indefinitely touching an untouchable body. It hides nothing, it has no mass and is ungodly. It is the untouchable that one ‘touches’. One might also say that emotion stems from just why we touch something”.190

The artist has to build a space or be true to a place. To do this, he needs to speak in his own language of madness.191 The fact that dreams only assume a vague geometry, a spiral, the fuzzy memory of the labyrinth matters not. What is important is that our passions are reincarnated in debris, the fragments do not lead us to a whole or to an absolute in which reconciliation is possible (whether abstract, intellectual, or concerning the past). This subjective banality has boosted192 the resistance found in the creative approaches taken by artists such as Antoni Miró. These artists refuse to accept the statu quo (which is to say a pervasive mediocrity, a demented flood of images, an acquiescence in the worst because we are protected, at least for the time being). Bergman wrote, “One can show a skyscraper in flames and giant monkeys: it costs money and a lot of effort but it can be done. Yet how can one give life to a series of events of a spiritual nature? When the game is over, will we have lost faith in images? When will we dare to stop giving free rein to our dreams without resorting to a circus act lacking purpose? Where are our dreams hidden? Why do they fail to materialise notwithstanding all the devices created to capture the slightest thought and feeling? Could it be that hyper-realistic cinematography has banished them all forever and that not the faintest shadow of those dreams is left save in the minds of hippies, semi-amateurs, and cinema semi-professionals?193 So much literalism is stifling, with its fusty pseudo-intellectualism enshrined in complex marketing strategies that dish up pathetically camp aestheticism. The end result is endlessly recycled kitsch and a mish-mash of the banal and the horrid.194 This is sad because contemplative passion — which involves pausing before a work — is what art is about, not a quick-fire welter of images: “Painting is the punctum fluxionis, a reflection that articulates the world”.195 If some contemporary art processes are a mixture of the decorative and the scatological, others try to bravely and frankly respond to the deranged complexity of today’s world. Painting, drawing — or rather brush and pencil strokes — hold out hope of a brighter future in a process that seeks to find another emotional temperature. The artist’s craft is a tough one for it involves getting closer to life, even if this involves building on destruction. An abysm opens between the present and death in which mystery and otherness mingle: “The relationship with others is the absence of The Other”.196 As Blanchot thought, one only lives by killing one’s inner child, the hand and shadows leave us in suspense, painting establishes a blissful delay. It is the reclamation of the singular intensity of life.197

“In the Age of Globalisation and the a-topos of the Internet, one increasingly sees time as something that can be shrunk, destroying the spatial scheme of our world”.198 Space is virtually ‘shrunk’ by the combined swiftness of transport and communication. We know that there is always something that lies beyond the medium for each one is build on a zone of immediacy that is not measured and transparent (in contrast with the medium). We have made the leap from the windows of buildings to the computer ‘window’,199 utterly changing how we see ‘the outside world and creating a complex game of transparency and opaqueness. The (supposed) age of access is just a market for (ostensibly) ‘authentic’ experiences.200 In these unhinged modern times, perhaps our ‘great leap forward’ amounts to no more than sedentary browsing of online content.201

We are living in a kind of bee-hive, a ‘bubble’ in which we have no need of the sublime. The contemporary anaesthesia, the systematic dismemberment of sensitivities, states The Invisible Committee in Maintenant, “is the result of survival within the context of Capitalism. We do not suffer as individuals but rather because we try to be individuals”.202 In the Big Data era, the lie rules supreme.203 Your computer screen, as Eli Pariser notes, is “a one-way mirror reflecting your interests in which algorithms record everything you click on”.204 Uberisation is growing apace as we cross the threshold into the era of the ‘molecular machine’,205 giving rise to great emotional collapses. Our ‘distraction culture’ is almost always deeply unfriendly.206 Over-stimulation and fake pleasure end up fostering either unhealthy obsessions or utter boredom.207

In 1903, Georg Simmel in his meditation on metropolitan life, noted that we leave and meet so many people, and weave communication networks that are so vast that it becomes impossible to emotionally relate to everyone (or indeed, to most of our contacts). While today’s social networks offer us a situational identity, we are the victims of ‘flexibility, the provisional, and precariousness. We launch endless ‘self-promotion’ messages”208 yet are becoming ever more sedentary and hysterical. The tensions created by ‘corporalism’209 condemn us to live in a bubble of insignificance.210

In our age, everything must be sold and subject to free market competition — which is just another way of saying that everything must be branded. Aesthetics is increasingly hyped and — paradoxically — whittled away to nothing. Fredric Jameson in his article “Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” states, “What has happened is that aesthetic production today has become integrated into commodity production generally: the frantic economic urgency of producing fresh waves of ever more novel-seeming goods (from clothing to airplanes), at ever greater rates of turnover, now assigns an increasingly essential structural function and position to aesthetic innovation and experimentation.” The ever-present aesthetic is commercially expressed in styling. Lifestyle has been intensely developed as the keystone in the marketing of consumer goods: more than globalisation, it is a (planned) standardisation of the world.211

We suffer — and we experience pleasure — in the midst of an incitation to indulge in aesthetic excess, which at the same time constitutes a Neo-Liberal subjection (which is a subjective construction).212 In the era of digitalised globalisation, the gap between physical and social kinds of proximity are becoming ever wider: those who are socially close to us do not have to be physically close and vice versa. Once again, we recall Hamlet’s “The time is out of joint” and the need to create new subjectivisation processes.213 Maybe art has to strain to perform its task, depending on emotions and affections of which we are unaware214 Yet art also has to show us what is happening and to bear witness to key conflicts, sedimenting desires and placing them in a familiar setting — all things that Antoni Miró does with magnificent aplomb.

Perhaps the Triebenergie (drive energy) liberated by art can free us from the subordination arising from the deployment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the automated economy. The emotions and affects appear as a subjective or gestural incarnation; perhaps both can be intensified from the standpoint of a philosophy of ‘pure affirmation’ that asks anew what a body can do.215 Spinoza in his Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order [Ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata] stressed that: “All power works on the affected being”. Maybe we should be less hasty in incorporating art, even if only to realise what is happening to us. More than knowing what we can do, we must activate our potential before it is too late, putting a brake or breaking up the “hyperstitional invocation”216 that is taking us on the path to ruin. Showmanship has colonised every nook and cranny of our lives, producing a singular mix of anaesthesia and astonishment in an emotional bipolarism that is leading us nowhere.217

The task of the fixed gaze continues where writing ends; the delightful moment of silent solitary contemplation allows one — as it were synesthetically — to ‘see’ what is ‘unheard (of)’ [a metaphor and play on words in the Spanish original: inaudito = unheard/extraordinary].218 Antoni Miró knows that he is living at a time when the interpenetration of dreams and the real world is growing by leaps and bounds. The artist is not frightened of using “the language of the masses”219 but does so without betraying our desires. That is because although our hopes for the future are at a low ebb, one can still imagine a fairer society.220 Miró is an artist who has never lost sight of the singular features of València’s culture but also never tires of raising universal issues.221 He has now spent half a century — no less — in painting with passion. He still works at night in his studio, busy with the thrilling task of capturing the passions of the times, to portray the faces of people he admires, and to caress bodies with his paintbrush, giving free rein to his desires while also bearing witness to what is happening (to us).

trAnslAtor’s note: Citations in Spanish / Catalan / Valencian have been translated into English save where equivalent published English-source texts were located.

1. Roland Barthes: “Querido Antonioni…” in La Torre Eiffel. Textos sobre la imagen, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2001, p. 182.

2. Cf. the chapter “Imágenes del mundo. La globalización y la cultura visual” by W. J. T. Mitchell: La ciencia de la imagen. Iconología, cultura visual y estética de los medios, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2019, pp. 93-106.

3. “If, with all, the experience of the world is destroyed by so many dispersed particles, by fragments and special circumstances, the idea of ‘the whole’ becomes ideologically suspect.” (Theodor W. Adorno used just such an approach to demolish the North American Theory of Science). Under such conditions, Man is bereft of the world, sacrificed on the altar of a division of work that leaves him with nothing more than an uncomprehending (though functionally useful) vision of the details but unable to experience the whole” (Hans Heinz Holz: De la obra de arte a la mercancía, Ed. Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, 1979, p. 142).

4. “Such that the artist’s task through the act of painting begins as a struggle against intentionally giving form to the work. If there was a dialectic in painting, it would run thus: one cannot intentionally give form to work for doing so would result in the cliché that necessarily accompanies that form. In other words, one has to rake over things and come up with a catastrophe, which provides the chaos and germ of the idea on which the artist then works. I call this germ an area of forces or diagram” (Gilles Deleuze: Pintura. El concepto de diagrama, Ed. Cactus, Buenos Aires, 2007, p. 76).

5. Hegel: Lecciones sobre la estética, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2007, p. 617.

6. “He does not limit himself to creating a ‘Denunciation Art’ from what happens daily. His ‘Chronicle of Reality’ (Social Art) has other implications such as observing, highlighting, and giving artistic form to his subject through a sequence of images. These sequences reflect a set of circumstances and socio-political positions that he considers abusive and perverse. Miró’s ethical commitment and sense of civic duty drives him to warn us of the dangers that certain behaviour patterns and attitudes hide. “Antoni belongs to that happy band who remain true to their ideals throughout their lives” perspicaciously noted Abel Prieto, the Cuban Minister of Culture. That is why despite many attempts to curtail and censure the democratic right to protest and the free expression of thought (in this case in the realm of art), Miró has shown iron resolve in his career spanning over half a century. He has pursued his craft with enthusiasm and determination ever since he first decided to become a painter.” (David Rico: Pobresa, marginalitat i exclusió social en l’obra artística d’Antoni Miró, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 90).

7. “Antoni Miró began his artistic career with Figurative Expressionism and soon took the path towards Social Realism and Pop-Art. In the latter genres, he used the codes employed by the mass media in a consumer society to denounce injustice, abuse, and the precariousness of the world we live in. Using decontextualisation of images and resorting to high-impact artistic means, Miró converted everyday reality into something timeless and universal. In his art, the image is no longer something for instant consumption and that is just as quickly forgotten amid the mind-numbing flashes of visual information with which the media bombard us. Instead, the artist turns the image once again into something that forces the beholder to reflect. Here, the artist engages in a kind of game that mirrors both daily life and symbolic reality, doing so with a subtle irony in which the pictures are not simply denunciations but also a demand for tenderness, love, memory, and subversion. It is simply spellbinding!” (Néstor Novell: “L’Escola d’Adults d’Ontinyent amb Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. Sèrie Mani-Festa, Centre Cultural Caixa Ontinyent, 2017, p. 7).

8. “It is hard to get anywhere unless you start from your own roots: homeland, family, and world” (Antoni Miró cited in Josep Lluís Antequera: “Miró i la mirada polièdrica” in Personatges, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2018, p. 14).

9. “Ludovico Dolce summed up the issue as follows: against the Pythagoreans, who believed that colour is nothing more than a surface effect, Plato believed that colour is embodied in a pure, luminous quality. More pertinently, Aristotle attempted a dialectical approach to the notion of colouring. He attributed what the Greeks called to diaphanés (which Dolce translated into Italian as la lucidezza]. Aristotle demanded that painting be as ‘lucid’ (in the sense of luminosity) as possible and to think of its invisible aspects. This crucial point in the Aristotelian hypothesis — which is now considered ‘expired’ compared to phyisics, but that should in no way diminish its impact: it is interesting in today’s pictorial field because the notion is pre-Newtonian. Aristotle’s concept of colour rejects the distinction between the painting’s colours/pigments and the ‘natural colours’ they evoke. This key point therefore consists in distinguishing between the power and the act of colour. “Each of these terms is employed in two senses: as current and as potential”, writes Aristotle. Diaphanés is the name for what yields the potential colour. It is pure dynamis. “Potential transparent bodies yield darkness”. Thus Diaphanés is the invisible condition for making things visible. “That which receives the colour is colourless, that which receives the sound is silent”. Nevertheless, the nature of this ‘receptacle’ is conceived as a mix of air and water: the atmosphere and the watery elements that are the two making up the eye. Diaphanés would be elevated into an act by the immanent power of fire: its action is light. According to Aristotle, the colouring constitutes the singular determination of that action, depending on whether the body affected contains more or less fire, earth, brilliant element, or dark element. “Light is the colour of the transparent” yet colour as such is diaphanés (not the light), acting as it passes through a singular body” (Georges Didi-Huberman: Fasmas. Ensayos sobre la aparición, Shangrila, Santander, 2015, pp. 108-109).

10. Both in folk wisdom and in the European aesthetic tradition from the times of The Church Fathers up until Diderot, Hegel, and Matisse, colour was seen and theorised as the affirmation of sensuality, an important way of conveying the living world.

11. John Berger: “¿Cómo aparecen las cosas?, o Carta abierta a Marisa” in El bodegón, Ed. Galaxia Gutenberg, Círculo de Lectores, Barcelona, 2000, p. 59.

12. We recall that one of the main arguments used in the Byzantine world to combat Iconoclasm was that made by Nicephorus I of Constantinople: “It is not Christ but the whole Universe that disappears if there are no limits and no icons”. In addition, in 1939 the French Political Scientist Anatole de Monzie said that “Men need images more than ever before. They need them to guide their curiosity, fill their memories, and to support their enthusiasm and endorsements”.

13. The authoritative reference work on Antoni Miró’s oeuvre is that by Wences Rambla: Forma y expresión en la plástica de Antoni Miró, Ed. Instituto de Creatividad e Innovaciones Educativas, Universitat de València, 1998.

14. “Antoni Miró was of a generation of painters in our country who had grown weary of sterile Informalism and its over-use by the great masters of abstraction. These artists avoided mannered figuration drawing on Cubist or Expressionist roots (dubbed ‘the new figuration’). Instead, they opened their eyes to reality, creating chronicles of what they saw to denounce: wars; racial discrimination; the exploitation of men; the hegemony of empires (whether economic or military); the destruction of our world; the miseries of our history” (Daniel Giralt-Miracle: “El Llibre dels Fets d’Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, p. 262).

15. “The discoveries of Informalism are: (1) the emerging power of areas of material (‘stains’ cf Tachisme); (2) of materials in depth and in relief (texture); (3) modification of the spaces produced by such textures; (4) the complete or partial obliteration of any kind of image whether imitated, invented, figurative, or geometric, leading to the creation of an essential relationship between texture and structure” (Juan Eduardo Cirlot: El arte otro, Ed. Seix Barral, Barcelona, 1957, pp. 10-11).

16. “The informal is not a school and much less a fad. It is a state of crisis, and precisely a crisis of art as a “European Science” (part of a wider “Crisis of European Sciences”), which Husserl described as the end of purpose or of the telos innate in European humanity since the birth of Greek Philosophy, which is rooted in the will to be human based on philosophical reason.” (Giulio Carlo Argan: El arte moderno. Del iluminismo a los movimientos contemporáneos, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 1991, p. 495).

17. Cf. Valeriano Bozal: “La poética del informalismo” in Arte del siglo xx. Pintura y escultura 1939-1990, Ed. Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1995, p. 377.

18. “[…] Grup Alcoiart, a stimulating group of artists that played a key role in Miró’s early artistic training. Miró took part in the group’s resistance during the difficult political circumstances of the 1960s.” (Román de la Calle: “La trayectoria artística de Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, p. 256). On the Alcoiart group cf. Joan Àngel Blasco Carrascosa: “Otra mirada sobre la obra artística de Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. Antología, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, Alacant, 1999, p. 41.

19. Cf. on the Gruppo Denunzia Floriano de Santi: “El ojo inquieto y alegórico de Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. La ciutat i el museu: trobades amb la Col·lecció Martínez Guerricabeitia, Universitat de València, 2005, pp. 93-94. Mario de Micheli of Gruppo Denunzia noted that: “The art shows different stylistic and expressive traits. In Miró’s work, the pictures are drastic and dramatic, while in Rinaldi’s oeuvre, they are narrative and almost of a chronicle nature. Comencini’s work is ironically pathetic while Pacheco’s paintings are bitter, grotesque, and sarcastic. Yet in all cases, they are images against something and for something else. They all denounce the attack on human dignity and espouse the cause of freedom. […] Now in Italy and in the rest of Europe too, a new generation of artists has shown that it knows how to paint without following the rambling, clannish, elitist manner of the latest variants of Experimentalism. Despite the hurdles along the way, their reconversion to the objective image is one of the clearest signs of a trend that would have seemed wildly unlikely just four or five years ago. Miró, Rinaldi, Pacheco, and Comencini in his own way, are all part of this trend.”

20. Cf. Alain Badiou: El siglo, Ed. Manantial, Buenos Aires, 2005, p. 194.

21. “With a technocratic, depoliticised, socially objective public administration and the co-ordination of interests as the bedrock of politics, the only way to inject passion into this field is to actively mobilise people and instil fear as the basic elements in today’s subjectivity. That is why biopolitics is the latest instance of a policy of fear which focuses on defending oneself from harassment and potential victimisation.” (Slavoj Zizek: Sobre la violencia. Seis reflexiones marginales, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2009, p. 56).

22. Walter Benjamin: “El narrador” in Para una crítica de la violencia, Ed. Taurus, Madrid, 1991, p. 120.

23. “The emergence of sexuality in our culture seems to stem from many causes. It is linked to ‘The Death of God’ and the ontological vacuum that this has left regarding the limits of thought. It also ties in with the silent, faltering reflection on limits — something that has replaced our quest for the whole. Now gestures of transgression take the place of yesterday’s interest in examining contradictions.” (Michel Foucault: “Prefacio a la transgresión” in De lenguaje y literatura, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 1996, p. 140).

24. “Colour is written in the flesh and is revealed by the tender and suffering caresses of light. What is born, exchanges, and dies is graven in the deepest skin — it is of this that the poets write. Who can understand the enigma of these bodily cavities, openings, and orifices whose properties and feelings mingle, and in which the passions and pleasures rack the body with hysteria? “The human soul is contained in the body’s nerves” wrote Dr. Daniel Schreber [a German judge suffering several mental illnesses]. Schreber also happened to believe that the sun’s rays shine out of the bowels. Modern psychiatrists have gone beyond the mystical musings of the Carthusians to discover that the eye may not only be the sun, it can also be the anus.” (Jean Clair: Elogio de lo visible, Ed. Seix Barral, Barcelona, 1999, p. 142).

25. “An analytical proposal in which, without falling into the clichés of Pop Art and facile hyper-realism, brings together art, society, and modern types with unique aesthetics — all of which reflects the artistic gaze of Antoni Miró, an artist who ‘looks at reality and transforms it. Miró works this transformation in three ways all at once: (1) by giving it meaning; (2) by rescuing the event from everyday life (which renders objects and people opaque); (3) projecting an alternative world, which is the creation of the artist’, as Isabel-Clara Simó lucidly wrote in the catalogue “Antoni Miró. The Eyes of the Painter”. While Miró is close to Equipo Crónica, to Equipo Realidad, to Genovés and Canogar, his artistic approach is different. He was not trained in the traditional Fine Arts schools nor did he take part in circles promoting ‘Critical Realism’. Neither did he have any special link with the artistic groups in the City of València nor did he take part in the philosophical and political debates arising from the aforesaid Social Art.” (Daniel Giralt-Miracle: “El Llibre dels Fets d’Antoni Miró» in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, pp. 263-264).

26. José Jiménez: “Oscuros, inciertos instantes” in Creación, nº 5, Madrid, May 1992, p. 15.

27. Cf. Arthur C. Danto: Después del fin del arte. El arte contemporáneo y el linde de la historia, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 1999, pp. 19-21.

28. “The present moment in painting is a culminating one of total autonomy in which painting can no longer be subject to the demands of external reality as it was of yore, or subject to material requirements as it was in the modern age. The history of painting has been that of what Kant termed heteronomy, in which the will is subject to external conditioning factors” (Arthur Danto: “Lo puro, lo impuro y lo no puro: la pintura tras la modernidad” in Nuevas abstracciones, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1996, p. 22).

29. Cf. Douglas Crimp: “The End of Painting” in On the Museum’s Ruins, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1995, p. 92.

30. I have put forward several preliminary considerations on this expanded photographic field (pictorialism, hybrid forms with sculptural elements, and so forth) in Fernando Castro Flórez’s: “Foto (fija) del olvido. Aproximación al arte del index” in Huéspedes del porvenir, Ed. Cruce, Madrid, 1997, pp. 205-218.

31. “The beginning — argues Martin Heidegger in The Origin of the Work of Art (Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes) is hidden in its end. […] When art comes into being, that is to say, when there is a beginning, a story commences: History starts or begins anew. History in this case does not mean a succession of events over time, no matter how important they are. Rather History is the awakening of a people so that it can carry out the mission destiny has charged it with. […] Art is History in the essential sense that Art founds History. […] Art is the origin of a people’s historic existence. That is because art is, in essence, an origin and nothing more: a means to access the truth of being, that is to say an event and thus History”.

32. “It seems to me that the history of modern painting can be read as the history of traditional painting but in reverse, like a film projected backwards, a regressive, systematic dismantling of the mechanisms invented over the centuries to make the pictorial representations of Christianity’s painful triumph and stirring tales of national victories more convincing. Thus transparent surfaces became filled with lumps of paint, spaces were flattened, perspective became arbitrary, art stopped worrying about whether the drawings corresponded to the real schemes of figures, shading was scrapped in favour of saturated tones that took no account of the edges of forms, and so stopped representing what everyone really saw. The monochrome canvas is the final stage in this collective process of de-pictorialisation until someone has the bright idea of stabbing the canvas with a sharp knife” (Arthur C. Danto: “Abstracción” in La Madonna del futuro. Ensayos en un mundo del arte plural, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2003, p. 235).

33. “The drips are generally a kind of incontinence, a sign of control betrayed by the caprices of the fluid. […] The drips state that painting has an expressive life all its own and that the paint does not go where the artist pushes it but rather where a fluid energy (which the painter struggles to control) determines” (Arthur C. Danto: “Pollock y el drip” in La Madonna del futuro. Ensayos en un mundo del arte plural, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2003, p. 391). An approximation to “theoretical expansion” in painting can be gleaned by reading the 1958 text by Allan Kaprow titled “El legado de Jackson Pollock” [The Legacy of Jackson Pollock] (included in Entre el arte y la vida. Ensayos sobre el happening, Ed. Alpha Decay, Barcelona, 2016, pp. 41-52) and two essays by Rosalind Krauss dedicated to Pollock: “Una lectura abstracta de Jackson Pollock” in La originalidad de la vanguardia y otros mitos modernos (Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1996, pp. 237-258) and in the sixth part of the book El inconsciente óptico (Ed. Tecnos, Madrid, 1997, pp. 257-326).

34. “In his [Pollock’s] canvases, what is visible is neither eye-catchingly big nor openly stated. Rather, what one notes is that the artist has deliberately left something out. The drama resides in that ‘something’ which stood before the canvas, where the painter revealed its condition of nature, that he has reduced to nothing. It is the visual equivalent of dead silence. […] With artistic brilliance, he painted to show that there was nothing behind the canvas. This terrible, rebellious impulse stemmed from a frenetic individualism and represents Pollock’s contribution to the suicide of art.” (John Berger: “Una manera de compartir” in Siempre bienvenidos, Ed. Huerga & Fierro, Madrid, 2004, pp. 148-149).

35. “One sometimes gets the impression that the problem facing painters is competition from new technologies. Yet I am coming to believe that the real problems stem from a crisis of meaning.” (Barry Schwabsky: “Pintar ahora” in Exit Express, nº 6, Madrid, October 2004, p. 11).

36. Vicente Aguilera Cerni noted that “Antoni Miró’s work occupies a special place and has its own unique features within the ‘Chronicle of Reality’ current in Contemporary Art. The Chronicle of Reality style is strongly rooted in The Valencian Country. I attribute this to the Fallera tradition [giant papier mâché sculpture satirising society] — a kind of home-grown Pop Art before the ‘official’ American Pop Art genre” (José María Iglesias: “Antoni Miró: la realidad transcendida en imágenes” in Antoni Miró. Antología, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, Alacant, 1999, p. 17).

37. Ernst Fisher: “El problema de lo real en el arte moderno” in Polémica sobre realismo, Ed. Tiempo Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires, 1972, p. 93.

38. “But the primordial noise, the last record of The Big Bang forms part of space itself. That is to say, it is not a noise ‘in space’ but rather the noise keeping the void open. In other words, were we to eliminate this noise, we would no longer have vast ‘empty space’ filled with this hiss. Without it, the void — the dwelling for every “earthly creature” — would vanish. Thus in a certain sense, this background hiss is ‘the sound of silence’.” (Slavoj Zizek: El acoso de las fantasías, Ed. Siglo XXi, Mexico, 1999, p. 205).

39. Italo Calvino: Seis propuestas para el próximo milenio, Ed. Siruela, Madrid, 1989, p. 84.

40. “The word ‘propaganda’ has a sinister ring, suggesting manipulative strategies of persuasion, intimidation, and deceit. By contrast, for many people, ‘art’ denotes an activity whose mission is the quest for truth, beauty, and freedom. For some, “the art of propaganda” is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, the modern negative, emotive connotations of ‘propaganda’ are relatively recent and stem from the brutal ideological battles of the 20th Century. The term was originally coined in the 17th Century to describe religious beliefs, values, and practices. It came into being when Pope Gregory XV promulgated Congregatio de Propaganda Fide in 1622” (Toby Clark: Arte y propaganda en el siglo xx, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2000, p. 7).

41. “Miró’s great merit is to turn fiction into reality in his canvases. He distils this reality in the athanor [alchemist’s furnace] in a style that is all his own and that is capable of portraying the organic through sketchy, almost geometric forms.” (Raúl Guerra Garrido: “Esto no es un ensayo sobre Miró”, Girarte, Villena, 1994, pp. 37-49).

42. “Antoni Miró’s work reveals a constant willingness to use symbols and images that are replete with paradoxes and metaphors and impregnated with literary figures” (Manuel Rodríguez Díaz: “Antoni Miró. El arte de crear un mundo propio: imaginativo y reflexivo” in Antoni Miró. Pinteu Pintura. Vivace, Galería Macarrón, Madrid, 1992, p. 22).

43. Wences Rambla: “A propósito de «Sense títol», la nueva serie plástica de Antonio Miró” in Antoni Miró. Una intensa trajectòria, Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, València, 2003, p. 40.

44. Cf. Román de la Calle: “Antoni Miró: imágenes de las imágenes” in Antoni Miró: imágenes de las imágenes, Fundación Bancaja, Edificio Pirámide, Madrid, 1998, p. 5.

45. Manuel Vicent: “El mundo proteico de Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. Antología, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, p. 9.

46. Isabel-Clara Simó indicates that Antoni Miró “has a vision all his own and his paintings are unlike anyone else’s. Should one ever discover a similar work, one can swear blind that it was painted by Antoni”. Cited in Jordi Tormo: Antoni Miró. La mirada rebel, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 84.

47. “One cannot remain indifferent to Antoni Miró’s artistic work, which draws anew on communicative strategies to portray the everyday life so eloquently conveyed in his paintings. The artist’s intense iconography correlates the unique features of key events in an everyday setting, drawing on typified aesthetic expressions. Perhaps it is precisely this formula that best embodies and defines his works, namely the transition from the particular to the typical. The titles of the works not only try to characterise each artistic proposal but also — in these cases — to facilitate the historical and contextual interpretation of the events depicted. Going beyond each singular event, its artistic transformation, and the witness borne by each canvas, one can find certain, well-honed artistic approaches that yield a typified aesthetic which — axiologically speaking — always attains its goals.” (Romà de la Calle: “Mani-Festa. La festa col·lectiva per la reivindicació dels drets, feta imatge” in Antoni Miró. Mani-Festa, Personatges, S/T, Llotja del Peix, Alacant, 2015, p. 146).

48. “It seems that not a day goes by in Europe without a new museum being opened. Activities that in the past were of a purely practical nature have now been turned into objects of contemplation: there is talk of a crêpe museum in Brittany, a gold museum in Berry, and so forth. Every month there is news of yet another ‘notable event’. This makes one wonder whether we will soon run out of days to mark the spate of new happenings and commemorations in the 21st Century.” (Tzvetan Todorov: Los abusos de la memoria, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2008, p. 87).

49. Román de la Calle: “Antoni Miró: imágenes de imágenes” in Antoni Miró: imágenes de imágenes, Fundación Bancaja, Edificio Pirámide, Madrid, 1998, p. 27.

50. A year before the Nazis came to power, Ernst Jünger noted that we live in a world that on the one hand resembles a construction, and on the other, a museum: “We have reached a kind of historical fetishism that bears a direct relationship with a false creator. It is a consoling to think that powers of destruction are secretly keeping pace with the accumulation and conservation of what we call cultural heritage”.

51. Walter Benjamin: “Tesis de filosofía de la historia” in Discursos interrumpidos I, Ed. Taurus, Madrid, 1973, p. 180

52. Joan Maria Pujals: “Antoni Miró” in Volem l’impossible. Antoni Miró. Antològica 1960-2001, Casal Solleric, Palma de Mallorca, 2001, p. 11.

53. “The struggle to defend The Valencian Country is a thread that runs through Miro’s life and work. Miró constantly takes part in movements and initiatives motivated by this struggle. He recalls that “one of the first campaigns I took part in to defend our country was titled Valencians, unim-nos [Valencians Unite!]. It was 1977, and was held within the framework of the Catalan Cultural Congress. I signed the manifesto demanding a Statute of Autonomy with other cultural and political figures, and all kinds of associations. We demanded a Statute of Autonomy for The Valencian Country, and also a statute for each of the other Catalan Lands as the first step on the road to self-determination. We also demanded “the restitution of Catalan” as the official language and called for “the future Federation of The Valencian Country, The Balearic Islands, and Catalonia”. Among others, the manifesto signatories included: Joan Fuster; Raimon; Vicent Andrés Estellés; Josep Renau; Antonio Gades; Andreu Alfaro; Ovidi Montllor; Manuel Sanchis Guarner. At the end of the 1970s, I also produced a series of posters demanding the national construction and unity of The Catalan Lands” (Jordi Tormo: Antoni Miró. La mirada rebel, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, pp. 105-106).

54. In June 2018, the Tribunal en las Drassanes [The Shipyards Tribunal] was presented together with a large number of texts by, among others, by Ximo Puig, Enric Morera, Vicent Marzá, Joan Ribó, Romà de la Calle, Wences Rambla, Isabel-Clara Simó, and Josep Sou.

55. “The commonest theory, though one lacking historical verification, was put forward by Francisco Javier Borrull, and defended in 1813 before the Cadiz Parliament in an attempt to save the institution. Borrull’s theory was that there was a similar tribunal in Roman times but that the present one was founded during the reigns of the Caliphs Abd al-Rahman III and al-Hakam II, specifically in 960 A.D. Yet Borrull did not say where he got this date from. The reason why Borrull settled on 960 A.D. was that he knew this was a moment when peace reigned throughout the Peninsula. He deduced that the order setting up the Tribunal must have occurred at some point during these two caliphates. In fact, 1960 was declared as The Millennium of the Water Tribunal at the behest of Vicente Giner Boira, who was the Tribunal’s legal advisor at the time. Boira was a leading advocate of the Muslim foundation theory during the 20th Century. Once Borrull had ‘established’ the Tribunal’s origin, it was taken as read that the institution had continued during the feudal period under Statute 35 of 1239 issued by King Jaime The Conqueror. The Statute stated that the institution should be governed “in accordance with what was formerly stipulated and the custom under the Saracens”. Furthermore, there are three details supporting the Muslim origins of the Water Tribunal: (1) The fact that the Tribunal is held every Thursday (the day before Friday, which is a holiday for Muslims); (2) Its site outside the Cathedral (where the Mosque stood in Moorish times, and the site of the Agora in Roman times); (3) That the right to speak at the tribunals was granted by the President by indicating with his foot who should speak next (this is a custom found in many nomadic tribes in North Africa, where a wise man yields the floor to other members of his tribe in a like manner)”. (Spanish entry on “Tribunal de las Aguas de València” [Water Tribunal] in Wikipedia).

56. Cf. David Rico: “Introducció a la interpretació simbòlica a través del gest en l’obra d’Antoni Miró” in Pobresa, marginalitat i exclusió social en l’obra artistica d’Antoni Miró, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, pp. 59 and ss.).

57. Jean Baudrillard: La agonía del poder, Ed. Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 2006, pp. 58-59.

58. “Hence the hypothesis formulated by Louis Marin: The purpose of the representative device is to turn force into power by representing it (in the time and space of the kingdom) so as to legitimise it. “Representation has a double power: (1) recreating the past in real and in imaginary terms for the present, as it were bringing the dead and the bygone back to life; (2) constituting one’s own subject by legitimating and authorising it by putting forward supporting qualifications and justifications […]. Put another way, if representation not only reproduces the deed but also (in Law) the conditions needed for its reproduction, one can understand why those in power are so keen to appropriate it. Representation and power are of the same nature” (Christian Salmon: La ceremonia caníbal. Sobre la performance política, Ed. Península, Madrid, 2013, p. 109).

59. “As Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari have argued, it involves the production of an image capable of “Bending the future’s ear to Mankind’s never-ending suffering, its renewed protests, its endless struggles”. […] It is here where art has a role to play, not in life (as is often said) but rather in a life: an “impersonal life yet a singular one” enshrining the “desire for immanence”. This urge guided Gilles Deleuze himself as his life drew to a close. Yet for Deleuze, the most ‘vital’ element of life is its energy to protest, its creativeness. Its virtue resides in what we have already seen in the lives of Warburg and Pasolini, namely the ability to rise to the challenge of pain. “A wound incarnates or changes the state of things. It is not only an experience but also a pure potentiality in the plane of immanence that governs life. My wound existed before I did” (Georges Didi-Huberman: Pueblos expuestos, pueblos figurantes, Ed. Manantial, Buenos Aires, 2014, p. 221).

60. Jacques Rancière: Figuras de la historia, Ed. Eterna Cadencia, Buenos Aires, 2013, p. 63.

61. “Miró considers culture as “the straight path to freedom — it is the only way”. For him, art is a revolutionary tool for conveying the ideas needed to bring about radical change and that can be understood around the world. In his view: “For artists, all this is possible despite their slender means. Painting is one of the main channels of communication and it has its own language for delivering a given message.” The goal is to help make the world a freer, more cultured place. That is why Miró argues that: “We can redress the world’s injustices through art”. He sees art as something that calls for constant research and innovation, and as an adventure full of trial and error. In a nutshell, one progresses until one achieves what one wants.” (Jordi Tormo: Antoni Miró. La mirada rebel, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 73).

62. “With photography, the world turns into nothing more than a picture library. We pursue an image of our world but it slips from our grasp like a ghost. All we are left with is images of something that has already slipped through our fingers.” (Hans Belting: Antropología de la imagen, Ed. Katz, Buenos Aires, 2007, p. 48).

63. Cited in Jordi Tormo: Antoni Miró. La mirada rebel, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 84.

64. Wilhelm Worringer: Abstracción y naturaleza, Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico, 1953, pp. 18-19.

65. Jean-Pierre Dupuy: Le sacrifice et l’envie. Le libéralisme aux prises avec justice social, Ed. Calman-Lévy, París, 1992, p. 269.

66. “Maurice Blanchot defines the community of men against the backdrop of history and politics in the following terms: “What is revealed by being shown”. In effect the community is shown in every sense of the verb. Blanchot notes that “today’s language avoids the words Communism and community”, and that “the people’s name is often taken in vain” for triumphalist, instrumentalising ends. The remedy he suggests is to see community and ‘people’ “not as a set of social forces that are grist to the mill of political decisions but rather as the instinctive refusal to assume any kind of political power, an utter distrust in delegated power and thus as a declaration of powerlessness”. Yet it seems to me that it is not so much a question of putting up with the powerlessness of peoples as grasping the idea that their potential is in no way diminished when they fail to gain power.” (Georges Didi-Huberman: Pueblos expuestos, pueblos figurantes, Ed. Manantial, Buenos Aires, 2014, p. 101).

67. The citation of Thomas More is taken up by David Harvey in Espacios de esperanza, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2007, p. 316.

68. “The city represented by Miró often becomes a place for lost souls who not only include temporary workers and tourists but also the dispossessed: immigrants and newcomers, people born and bred in the city and who find it hard to make ends meet, wanderers and people arriving from all corners of the world seeking new opportunities, and those who have fallen on hard times” (David Rico: Pobresa, marginalitat i exclusió social en l’obra artística d’Antoni Miró, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 21).

69. I was a Commissioner for this exhibition at IVAM. This Catálogo razonado [catalogue with commentary] includes the text that I wrote for that exhibition. It contains some analyses that I have not repeated in this new essay, which picks up arguments I made for the exhibition at La Base de la Marina de València, where I was also curator.

70. “Far from exhausting the references used by the painter in his artistic meta-language, Antoni Miró’s iconic universe remains direct and powerful, rescuing daily events from media oblivion by employing a repertoire of images that lead here and there. He achieves this through artistic and ideological contextualisation. In this respect, one must highlight Miró’s consistency throughout his career, with an iconography that boosts his message and is charged with meaning. At root, the artist’s oeuvre forces the viewer to react, thus achieving its goal of unsettling consciences.” (Joan Àngel Blasco Carrascosa: “Antoni Miró. Una intensa trayectoria” in Antoni Miró. Una intensa trajectòria, Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, València, 2003, p. 12).

71. “[…] the “Mani-Festa” collection was painted between 2012 and 2015 and contains work based on photos provided by the mass media. These images are widely known thanks to their dissemination through social networks but they may also be altered. Miró reveals the truth in these images. His is a chronicle of social reality that is both critical and truthful. The title given to the collection uses a play on words in Valencian [manifestació = demonstration; festa = party/festival] thus one can think of it as a demonstration and a celebration of freedom rolled into one. Miró establishes that a demonstration is “expression by ‘the people’, a term that has always interested me”. Miró shows the two sides of the event — on the one hand the popular, free protest on the streets and on the other the brutality and violence with which the ‘security forces’ charge and beat up the demonstrators.” (Antoni Miró. La mirada rebel, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 92).

72. “Art is not simply a reflection of reality but rather takes sides for or against something. Art’s mirror is neither inert nor inanimate. Art does not have the objectivity of a scientific instrument given that the observer is part of it. There is no art without passionate participation in the reality which the artist seeks to represent. The notion of reflection is an imperfect definition of such participation.” (Ernst Fisher: “El problema de lo real en el arte moderno” in Polémica sobre realismo, Ed. Tiempo Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires, 1972, pp. 104-105).

73. “The anger is almost imperceptible but it is clearly present in the unsaid words that slip round the edges of these superbly painted, exquisitely limned pictures.” (Josep Sou: “Las ciudades del silencio” in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, p. 278).

74. “Antoni Miró leans towards a direct, powerfully-expressed and often crude message, turning the work into a radical accusation against historical and contemporary irrationalities. He sets his steely gaze on subjects that are highly motivating for an artist, such as: the disasters of war; the passions linked to violence; individual and collective wretchedness; the aberrations of racism; the unrest spawned by alienation; the urgent need for social emancipation; the imbalances arising from dehumanization; the Machiavellianism of ‘the powers that be’; the paranoia and schizophrenia of dictators; the yearning for cultural and national independence; the immorality of imperialist colonization, and so forth. That is why Miró’s work has been termed ‘political art’, whose goal is to prick one’s conscience. It is an art designed to unsettle, fuel criticism, and convey unpleasant meanings. In a nutshell, it is the art of denunciation served up with what has been called “conscience-pricking art.” (Joan Àngel Blasco Carrascosa: “Otra mirada sobre la obra artística de Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. Antología, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, Alacant, 1999, p. 43).

75. “In an enlightening essay on Toni Miró, published in 1989, by San Telmo Museoa de San Sebastián under the title Diàlegs [Dialogues], Romà de la Calle wrote that: “Antoni Miró resorts to many historical myths and in his own way, de-mystifies them through a cathartic irony in which criticism goes hand-in-hand with aesthetic experience.” In my view, Romà’s comment perfectly describes one of the key facets of this artist, whose work lies on the boundary between Social Realism and commitment to the problems and achievements of his age. This commitment springs from Miró’s strong interest in the past because he knows that it led to today’s state of affairs. Hence, history occupies a central place in Toni Miró’s work. He draws on history — sometimes very ironically, on other occasions bitterly — to perform the cathartic role mentioned by the cited critic.” (Emili La Parra: “La guerra” in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, p. 265).

76. “As an artist, Antoni Miró firmly acts in both the personal and creative spheres to serve those causes he considers just and therefore worth defending. This commitment gives meaning to his oeuvre and is expressed through the subtle sensibility of Miró’s pictorial language and through the freedom of the poetic discourses underlying it. Yet his discourse is not a narcissistic one in which poetic inspiration is the be-all and end-all of the work. Instead, the artist paradoxically harnesses poetic elements to highlight the collective will and stress the pressing need for greater communication. Thus what we see in Mani-Festa is the artist’s commitment to people and their times.” (Josep Sou: “Mani-Festa / Personatges S/T —acciones en la pintura de Antoni Miró—” in Antoni Miró. Mani-Festa. Personatges. S/T, Llotja del Peix, Alacant, 2015, p. 151).

77. “When I look at our history, Miró sides with the vanquished. He does so not by dragging his feet in retreat but rather by expressing his outrage with great irony, holding up an unflattering mirror to the victors to reflect a rotting skull.” (Isabel-Clara Simó: “Presentación” in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, p. 251).

78. “Miró has painted, etched, and sculpted our History (and that of everyone else) from the distant past right up to the present. He has left his mark on those institutions that have been lucky enough to work with him. Miró’s art has always been driven by his most deeply-held socio-political convictions and activism. Yet he has skilfully used art (surely the most beautiful of Man’s weapons) to put his message across. His work, though methodical and patient, never stills his artistic voice because Miró ensures that the painstaking craftsmanship that goes into his work is kept in the background. The paintings ooze sensibility, awaking hidden feelings and helping a country that is going through hard times to recover its identity and gradually awaken from its slumber.” (Armand Alberola Romà: “Antoni Miró: arte y compromiso solidario” in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, p. 254).

79. Isabel-Clara Simó: “Presentación” in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, p. 251.

80. “Far from exhausting the references used by the painter in his artistic meta-language, Antoni Miró’s iconic universe remains direct and powerful, rescuing daily events from media oblivion by employing a repertoire of images that lead here and there. He achieves this through artistic and ideological contextualisation. In this respect, one must highlight Miró’s consistency throughout his career, with an iconography that boosts his message and is charged with meaning. At root, the artist’s oeuvre forces the viewer to react, thus achieving its goal of unsettling consciences.” (Joan Àngel Blasco Carrascosa: “Antoni Miró. Una intensa trayectoria” in Antoni Miró. Una intensa trajectòria, Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, València, 2003, p. 12). As Santiago Pastor Vila playfully notes, Antoni Miró’s Personatges [Characters] are painted with “the patina of time”: “In fact, the choice of colour and visual texture is highly relevant in this series of works. Most of them are monochrome (mainly, black on white). Some of them are tinted (for example in shades of blue), while others are in colour. Yet the vast majority of the paintings exhibit a ‘veil’ consisting of vertical scratches. This technique produces visual ‘noise’, giving the works a patina denoting age. The device is similar to that used in photo-journalism.” (Santiago Pastor Vila: “Miríada referencial” in Personatges, Ajuntament de Xàtiva, 2018, p.15.

81. “Thus we find ourselves before a set of people depicted as worthy of admiration.” (Wences Rambla: “Personatges d’Antoni Miró” in Personatges, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón de la Plana, 2018, p. 9).

82. “The portraits epitomise the artist’s struggle to bring about change. Here, Miró can be likened to a ‘street fighter’, grabbing whatever weapon comes to hand in pursuing his goals. Miró has danced, sung, painted, and built. He has denounced injustices, guided nations, revolutionised workers, directed orchestras, and has covered: the psychically maltreated; survivors of concentration camps; those who died for their ideals; those true to Utopian causes; skipping between calm contemplation and angry reaction in the process.” (Josep Lluís Antequera: “Miró i la mirada polièdrica” in Personatges, Ed. Ajuntament Xàtiva, 2018, p. 14).

83. “We recall the rule followed by most ‘specialists’ and contemporary politicians. They never tire of telling us that we are living through hard times with sky-high public deficits and debt. They say we must all shoulder the burden and tighten our belts — everyone that is except the super-rich. […] This ‘official message’ was peddled during the financial crisis (basically caused by excessive State borrowing and spending) to justify huge bail-outs of big privately-owned banks with taxpayers’ money. This happened in countries ranging from Iceland to The United States” (Slavoj Zizek: El año que soñamos peligrosamente, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2013, pp. 37-38).

84. Especially see Slavoj Zizek: En defensa de causas perdidas, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2011, pp. 431-475.

85. “In this respect, I have always been impressed by Antoni Miró’s unwavering determination to put his ideas into practice. Equally noteworthy is his ability to discriminate between the historic functions of art and those functions he sees as bearing most on communicative tasks in his career.” (Romà de la Calle: “Mani-Festa. La festa col·lectiva, per la reivindicació dels drets, feta imatge” in Antoni Miró. Mani-Festa. Personatges. S/T, Llotja del Peix, Alacant, 2015, pp. 10-11).

86. The true nature of the ‘scandal’ caused by Antoni Miró’s paintings of demonstrations can be gauged by the fact that the images had already been published and aired in the mass media. This scandal followed in the wake of a pathetic ‘controversy’ at La Base exhibition where some dared to label Miró’s Erótica series as ‘perverse’. Perhaps art’s ‘provocative power’ lies in its “untimely nature” or maybe even in the inability of some philistines to master their notorious prejudices”.

87. Christian Salmon: La estrategia de Sherezade. Apostillas a Storytelling, Ed. Península, Barcelona, 2011, p. 125.

88. Salmon, ibid., p. 161.

89. “Whichever way one looks at it, the present has no future. That is not the least of its virtues. Those who would rather ‘wait and see’ only lose support. Those who say they have solutions are proved wrong at every turn. Some say that things can only get worse. “There is no future” is now the folk wisdom of our age — a notion that puts us on the same mental footing as the first Punks.” (Comité Invisible: La insurrección que viene, Ed. Melusina, Barcelona, 2011, p. 29).

90. Cf. Félix Duque: in Félix Duque and Luciana Cadahia (eds.), Indignación y rebeldía, Ed. Abada, Madrid, 2013, pp. 99-125.

91. “Accordingly, if we are obliged to be politically realistic, why should we not also be forced to repeat the old Maoist slogan: “Everything under the sun is in utter chaos so things could not be better”? The fact is the present situation does not stem from a global crisis in democracy, the permanent state of exception, and unending global wars. Rather, it mainly arises because the constitutive power of the multitude has matured to the point where it is capable of underpinning its own democratic alternative society through communication, co-operation networks, and the production of common goods.” (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri: Multitud. Guerra y democracia en la era del imperio, Ed. Debate, Barcelona, 2004, p. 405).

92. Cf. The comment on this passage in Slavoj Zizek: En defensa de causas perdidas, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2011, pp. 157-159.

93. Zizek, ibid., p. 274.

94. Michel Foucault: “¿Qué es la crítica?” in Sobre la Ilustración, Ed. Tecnos, Madrid, 2006, pp. 7-8.

95. Antonio Negri: La fábrica de porcelana. Una nueva gramática de la política, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2008, pp. 149-150.

96. Michel Foucault: “¿Qué es la crítica?” in Sobre la Ilustración, Ed. Tecnos, Madrid, 2006, p. 11.

97. Judith Butler: “¿Qué es la crítica? Un ensayo sobre la virtud en Foucault” in Producción cultural y prácticas instituyentes. Líneas de ruptura en la crítica institucional, Ed. Traficantes de Sueños, Madrid, 2008, p. 165.

98. Antonio Negri: La fábrica de porcelana. Una nueva gramática de la política, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2008, p. 184.

99. Michel Foucault cited in J. Afary and K. B. Anderson: Foucault and the Iranian Revolution, Chicago University Press, 2005, p. 263.

100. It is significant that Manuel Borja-Villel, in an Artforum review issue on the most interesting developments in the art world, listed the camp-out in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol from the 15th of March onwards. “This immediately sparked reaction, mainly on the Internet, both by art critics and political agents involved in the movement, who insisted that the arguments made by the Director of the Reina Sofia Centre were inappropriate.” (Miguel Ángel Hernández-Navarro: “Low-Fi Revolution. Cartonajes, performances precarias y estéticas relacionales” in: Ernesto and Fernando Castro (eds.), El arte de la indignación, Ed. Delirio, Salamanca, 2012, p. 106).

101. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri: Commonwealth. El proyecto de una revolución del común, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2011, p. 267.

102. Paolo Virno: Gramática de la multitud. Para un análisis de las formas de vida contemporáneas, Ed. Colihue, Buenos Aires, 2008, pp. 67-68.

103. Miguel Ángel Hernández-Navarro has lucidly analysed the aesthetic dimension of 15-M (15th May demonstrations) in his essay Low-Fi Revolution. Cartonajes, performances precarias y estéticas relacionales [The Low-Fi Revolution, Cardboard Boxes, Improvised Performances and Relational Aesthetics]. Meanwhile, Iván López Munuera has highlighted the ‘political lab and experimentation’ dimension of the protests. They enshrine an interaction between art and politics in the age of dissidence activism, and are summed up by the slogan “Give me a banner and I shall move the world”. (Laboratorios emocionales y nuevas estrategias de representación en el sujeto activista tras el 15-M”, both in Ernesto and Fernando Castro (eds.): El arte de la indignación, Ed. Delirio, Salamanca, 2012, pp. 103-119 y 123-133.

104. “Generally speaking, the occupiers either adopted a negative discourse or confessed a certain inability to describe or define things. The Occupy Movement’s refusal to explain its demands is a ‘performance’ that is part and parcel of the occupation trope, which speaks of the need to remain silent. This approach opens up a negative space in language through a form of ‘expressive behaviour’” (W. J. T. Mitchell: La ciencia de la imagen. Iconología, cultura visual y estética de los medios, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2019, p. 152).

105. “Though young in spirit, Antoni Miró already has a long, complex, and riotously vivacious oeuvre under his belt […]. Behind Antoni Miró’s sustained, Protean output is a critical projection of Man and the society spawned by us in The West. Sometimes his works are like a cry of denunciation while others convey a sarcasm and a revulsion that sometimes express the incongruence of an art cornered by its own hypotheses. These features all help explain the deep suggestiveness of his work and its message.” (Joan Fuster on Antoni Miró in 1976, cited in Jordi Tormo: Antoni Miró. La mirada rebel, Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 129).

106. “In transposing paintbrush and painting, the observer turns the object of the work into something which takes on a life of its own. Hegel deduced this in his remarkable conclusion: “It is a wholly subjective skill that objectively manifests itself through its own liveliness and effect to create a self-generating materialism”. Once again, the painting’s expression should not be seen as the material reflection of the soul but rather as the work’s self-generated liveliness born of the artist’s subjective skill.” (Horst Bredekamp: Teoría del acto icónico, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2017, p. 203).

107. “The author questions the notion of progress. In this series of paintings [Vivace], Miró shows greater poetry and lyricism than hitherto by metamorphosing these mechanical, articulated objects (bicycles) into an illogical world that occupies an unsettling twilight zone somewhere between reality and fantasy. Yet this lyricism in no way diminishes the artist’s fierce criticism. The bicycles are placed against an explicitly referenced natural world and are broken up through a relational game toying with what is true and what is false, thus rendering the figuration surreal.” (Joan Àngel Blasco Carrascosa: “Antoni Miró. Una intensa trayectoria” in Antoni Miró. Una intensa trajectòria, Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, València, 2003, p. 10).

108. “Antoni Miró uses the wheel as an archetypal element in his imagery. A wheel sets a boundary to polysemy, spanning the whole ‘archaeology of culture’: holy themes, Buddha’s Wheel of Life [Bhavacakra], the wheels of the heavenly chariots, the signs of the zodiac, Nietzsche’s wheel spinning all by itself […], the wheels of Duchamp’s bicycle beginning the prêt-à-porter circuit. His is a wheel far removed from the boundaries that creates a Lethe-like rebirth.” (Valentina Pokladova: “Ramas y raíces” in Antoni Miró. Una intensa trajectòria, Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, València, 2003, p. 86).

109. “We must not forget that Miró’s work seeks to conquer by finding those crumbs of beauty needed to get others to join in the artist’s quest, namely: to be a whole man whose commitment to society is clearly and precisely argued. This is a strange kind of beauty and one can say that his work looks at life through the eyes of one who is eager to explore the human condition.” (Josep Sou: “Las ciudades del silencio” in Antoni Miró. Històries (de la nostra història), Museu de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2010, p. 280).

110. Joan Maria Pujals: “Antoni Miró” in Volem l’impossible. Antoni Miró. Antològica 1960-2001, Casal Solleric, Palma de Mallorca, 2001, p. 11.

111. “Antoni Miró’s «Suite eròtica» [Erotic Suite] is a tribute to the nature of archaic beauty, reinterpreted through the modern mind’s eye. The works reflect Miró’s beliefs that: (1) all versions enjoy the same rights; (2) new variations replace classical ones and by so doing, enrich the splendour and diversity of the Weltbild.” (Valentina Pokladova: “Ramas y raíces” in Antoni Miró. Una intensa trajectòria, Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, València, 2003, pp. 83-84).

112. Georges Bataille: El erotismo, Ed. Tusquets, Barcelona, 1985, p. 31.

113. Vladimir Jankélévitch: La aventura, el aburrimiento, lo serio, Ed. Taurus, Madrid, 1989, p. 13.

114. George Simmel: Sobre la aventura, Ed. Península, Barcelona, 1988, p. 13.

115. “The problem lies in the “self-circumscribing circularity”, as if one were orbiting one’s own sun. The autonomous subject discovers something “that is more than himself”, a foreign body at his heart. This points to the Lacanian neologism extimité, designating a foreign body at the centre of one’s being. Precisely the fact that the subject orbits itself indicates that it “is more than itself”, revealing the traumatic kernel of pleasure that Lacan termed Das Ding (The Thing)” (Slavoj Zizek: Mirando al sesgo. Una introducción a Jacques Lacan a través de la cultura popular, Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 2000, p. 276).

116. “A parergon without ergon?, a pure ‘supplement’, or a supplementary ‘garment for the ‘nude’ that substitutes for nothing save another supplement? What does this ‘naked’ thing refer to — maybe to the ‘nude’ and the ‘rest’, of which we have just spoken? Nevertheless, we have just used ‘nude’ in another sense for we have seen ourselves stark naked. Is it chance that the ‘metaphor’ of clothing comes so easily to Heidegger when he speaks of the “pure and simple thing”? “Nevertheless, this ‘nudity’ (bloss) means stripping off (Entblössung) that serves a purpose (Dienlichkeit) and is fabricated” (Jacques Derrida: “Restituciones de la verdad en pintura” in La verdad en pintura, Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 2001, p. 316).

117. Jacques Derrida: ¡Palabra! Instantáneas filosóficas, Ed. Trotta, Madrid, 2001, p. 42.

118. “The strange happiness of the foreigner consists in maintaining this fleeting eternity and this perpetual transitory state.” (Julia Kristeva: Extranjeros para nosotros mismos, Ed. Plaza & Janés, Barcelona, 1991, p. 13.

119. “An impossible journey is one that we shall never make. Such a journey could have revealed new landscapes and new names; it could have given scope for new encounters.” (Marc Augé: El viaje imposible. El turismo y sus imágenes, Ed. Gedisa, Barcelona, 1998, p. 15).

120. What is marvellous about the sublime now is that something happens, or does not. It is this delight with intensification: “The biggest shock is that something happens instead of nothing — it is the suspension of privation.” (Jean-Francois Lyotard: “Lo sublime y la vanguardia” in Lo inhumano. Charlas sobre el tiempo, Ed. Manantial, Buenos Aires, 1998, p. 105).

121. Kant: Crítica del juicio, Ed. Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1977, p. 161.

122. Tiger’s Eye magazine published a symposium on the nature of the sublime in Issue 15 in December 1948. Those taking part included: Kurt Seligman, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, David Silvestre, Nicolas Calas, and John Stephan, Cf. Dore Ashton: La escuela de Nueva York, Ed. Cátedra, Madrid, 1988, pp. 254-255.

123. Cf. Massimo Carboni: “La inversión de lo sublime” in Creación, nº 4, Instituto de Estética y Teoría de las Artes, Madrid, January 1992, pp. 23-33, and Gianni Carchia: Retórica de lo sublime, Ed. Tecnos, Madrid, 1994, pp. 111-120.

124. “We affirm the desire of the ordinary man to be excited given our concern over absolute emotions (Barnett Newman: “Actualidad de lo sublime” in Kalías, nº 10, Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, València, 1993, p. 88).

125. “Decor is of the same primary, sensorial order as colour, and suits simple folk, peasants, and savages. By contrast, harmony and proportion require intellect and draw the attention of cultured men.” (Le Corbusier: Hacia una arquitectura, Ed. Poseidón, Barcelona, 1977, p. 122).

126. Alfred Gell: “Sobre el arte ornamental” in Concreta. Sobre creación y teoría de la imagen, nº 7, València, 2016, p. 57.

127. Thomas Golsenne sees ornament not as part of one’s external embellishment and as a corporal accessory but as: “the expression of a differentiating force. […] An ornament possesses the same vitality as thing to which it confers its power.” (Thomas Golsenne: “Armas y joyas. Sobre la potencia de la ornamentación en el Renacimiento” in Concreta. Sobre creación y teoría de la imagen, nº 7, València, 2016, pp. 43-53).

128. Jacques Lacan: “Ensayo de una lógica de caucho” in Seminario 4. La relación de objeto, Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 1994, p. 374.

129. “Every creation of a new feeling in human culture is essentially metaphorical in nature. It involves a substitution that at the same time retains that which is being substituted. The tension between what is replaced and the substitute draws us into a new dimension that clearly embraces poetic improvisation.” (Jacques Lacan: “Ensayo de una lógica de caucho”, ibid., p. 380).

130. Slavoj Zizek: El acoso de las fantasías, Ed. Siglo XXi, Mexico, 1999, p. 161.

131. Jacques Derrida: “Desgastes. (Pintura de un mundo sin edad)” in Espectros de Marx. El estado de la deuda, el trabajo del duelo y la nueva internacional, Ed. Trotta, Madrid, 1995, p. 91.

132. Lyotard argues that the impossibility of painting stems from the industrial and post-industrial world’s growing need for photography “in the same way that the world needs more journalism than it does literature.” (Jean-Francois Lyotard: “Presenting the unrepresentable: the sublime” in Art Forum, New York, April 1982, p. 67).

133. “Where am I? Who am I? Is it the same question that only requires an answer from Him? I only dwell in the folds, I am only folds. How strange that Embryology has taken so little interest in Topology, its mother or sister science! From the early stages of my embryonic formation — morula, blastula, gastrula — vague yet precise germs of the little man yet to be — that which they rightly call tissue — folds once, a hundred times, a million times. This tissue, which in our neighbours’ tongues are still called folds, connect, tear apart, are perforated, invaginate, are altered and shaped by a topology to form volumes and mass. Tissue that is at once full and empty, fleshing out the interval between the tiny cell and the great wide world that shall give me a name. My hand, now folded, takes to drawing scrolls and loops upon life’s page, and with them, the knots and folds that carry meaning.” (Michel Serres: Atlas, Ed. Cátedra, Madrid, 1995, p. 47).

134. Marshall Berman: Todo lo que es sólido se desvanece en el aire. La experiencia de la modernidad, Ed. Siglo XXi, Buenos Aires, 1988.

135. Hubert Damisch: El desnivel. La fotografía puesta a prueba, Ed. La Marca, Buenos Aires, 2008, p. 127.

136. “In his book The Interpretation of Dreams [Die Traumdeutung], Freud described the paths and processes dreams take, risking a comparison (roundly slated by critics) with painting. Freud’s thoughts on the subject are lifted from a text by Vasari in the latter’s “The Life of Cimabue” [in Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori]. Freud speaks of how painting, after long resorting to inscriptions and tefillin to put over the desired message, began to develop its own means of expression under Cimabue — something that was taken even further by Giotto. Such new means of expression owed nothing to written language.” (Hubert Damisch: El desnivel. La fotografía puesta a prueba, Ed. La Marca, Buenos Aires, 2008, p. 162).

137. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe: Agonía terminada, agonía interminable, Ed. Nueva Visión, Buenos Aires, 2014, p. 91.

138. Georges Bataille: La parte maldita, Ed. Icaria, Barcelona, 1987, p. 112.

139. “The artist wields no power but maintains a certain relation with the truth; his work, which is always allegorical when it is a masterpiece, looks at things obliquely, its world is one of Indirect Truth.” (Roland Barthes: “Querido Antonioni…” in La Torre Eiffel. Textos sobre la imagen, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2001, p. 180).

140. “Antoni Miró’s art is an immensely generous one that makes an extraordinary contribution. This is because apart from the harmony and beauty found in his oeuvre, Miró’s paintings also convey emotions and sensations. The hermeneutics regulating the information makes for ideal viewing of his works. The artist’s meticulous technique ensures the beholder gets just the information needed to keep abreast of events. Miró’s chronicle is an open one, allowing one to see what is happening on the streets and to emotionally participate in the cause of the commons. That is because “A living people, no matter how badly hurt, draws backbone and strength from the real world”, as Ibsen put it. In effect, Antoni Miró’s self-imposed mission is to convey the nature of a daily world thrown out of kilter by the powerful, and to reaffirm the nobility of spirit and the courage of those fighting for justice.” (Josep Sou: “Mani-Festa / Personatges S/T —acciones en la pintura de Antoni Miró—” in Antoni Miró. Mani-Festa. Personatges. S/T, Llotja del Peix, Alacant, 2015, p. 151).

141. “Demonstrating basically involves occupying public and common spaces so that the axiological differences found in daily life can be laid bare. Freedom of expression goes hand-in-hand with the right to demonstrate and in democratic societies it is the best way to channel differences of opinion with ‘the powers that be’. Thus one can take demonstrations as a yardstick to discover democratic deficits in society and to show up the misuse of regulations and Law to muzzle, restrict, or minimise the right to protest and to demonstrate.” (Román de la Calle: “Mani-Festa. La festa col·lectiva, per la reivindicació dels drets, feta imatge” in Antoni Miró. Mani-Festa. Personatges. S/T, Llotja del Peix, Alacant, 2015, p. 146).

142. Antoni Miró stated the meaning of his portraits as follows: “I had wanted to paint this collection for some time. In the past, I painted several portraits that I thought were of interest to society as a whole. Yet up until now, I was unable to go into the depth needed for such an endeavour. I have now painted many of the people inspiring my work. Most of these fighters for justice are no longer with us but they have left a remarkable legacy,” (Antoni Miró cited in Josep Lluís Antequera: “Miró i la mirada polièdrica” in Personatges, Ajuntament de Xàtiva, 2018, p. 14.

143. Antón Patiño: Todas las pantallas encendidas, Ed. Fórcola, Madrid, 2017, p. 11.

144. Cf. Jean Baudrillard: “Shadowing the world” in El intercambio imposible, Ed. Cátedra, Madrid, 2000, p. 153.

145. Jean Baudrillard: “El complot del arte” in Pantalla total, Ed. Anagrama, Barcelona, 2000, pp. 211-212.

146. Cf. Thomas McEvilley: The Exile’s Return. Toward a Redefinition of Painting for the Post-Modern Era, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

147. “Painting therefore lacks a framework for painting in a comparative, hierarchical fashion and instead passes from ‘limitation’ to the ‘limitless’ that incorporates a lengthy, wide-ranging post-critical stage.” (Pedro A. Cruz Sánchez and Miguel Ángel Hernández-Navarro: Impurezas: el híbrido pintura-fotografía, Ed. Consejería de Educación y Cultura de la Región de Murcia, 2004, p. 95).

148. “The gnostically-inspired question Where are we when we are in the world? is one for which we can hazard an answer. We are in an outer world that hosts inner ones. If we accept the idea that our eyes give priority to the outer world over the inner one, there is no need to delve into ingenuous notions regarding Man’s place in The Cosmos. It is too late to start dreaming again that we dwell beneath the concentric shells of a star-studded firmament or believe that our world is a (divinely) ordered ‘home’. For the initiated, the feeling of safety within a vast sphere — that old, warm vision of the cosmos — has gone for good. Those gazing beyond our Earth will only see deserted specks in the endless void, lacking any meaningful contours. We have also discovered great complexities at the atomic scale, from which we are likewise excluded. That is why it makes more sense than ever to discover our place in the scheme of things and to live on the human scale. Dwelling in our world means coming to terms with spheres that range from the incredibly small to the unimaginably big. Like it or not, our gaze is confined within certain horizons. Living in these spheres means creating a dimension that can contain human beings. Spheres are spatial, systemic creations that raise effective systemic and immunological barriers for static beings upon which the outer world operates.” (Peter Sloterdijk: Esferas I, Ed. Siruela, Madrid, 2003, p. 37).

149. Norman Bryson: Visión y pintura. La lógica de la mirada, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1991, p. 177.

150. “The Late-Modernist bind lies precisely in this process and embodies a failure of autonomy in going all the way in carrying out an aesthetic programme.” (Fredric Jameson: Una modernidad singular. Ensayo sobre la ontología del presente, Ed. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2004, p. 174).

151. John Berger: El tamaño de una bolsa, Ed. Taurus, Madrid, 2004, p. 37.

152. “What all true painting has to deal with is an absence — one of which we would be unaware were it not for art and that would thus be our loss. The painter endlessly seeks a place to receive this absence. If he finds it, he arranges and orders it and prays that its face will appear on the canvas.” (John Berger, ibid., p. 38).

153. “We painters — says Matisse — pray when we paint. We put our soul into our paintbrushes. In life, there are two suns, one that shines secretly within us and the other from the firmament. As the sun in the sky dims with the march of time, the one in our souls shines all the more brightly”.

154. “I only know that I have never been fascinated by a painting if I understand everything. I need to feel that something escapes me if I am to profess my love. Maybe this yen for the cryptic explains the kind of language people use when they see a work of art, as if the inanimate object before them was imbued with some elusive, almost holy power. Our culture is flooded with simplistic images that flash across our screents, that furtively gaze at us from magazines, that tower above us in cities on giant displays. The ‘codes’ of such commercial messages are easy to crack for they all demand we spend money on this or that frippery. By contrast, a painting requires us to look long and hard at it if we are to delve into the enigma it contains. Art demands we make the effort to give meaning to the image before us.” (Siri Hustvedt: “Los placeres del desconcierto” in Los misterios del rectángulo, Ed. Circe, Barcelona, 2007, p. 33).

155. Jean Baudrillard: “La escritura automática del mundo” in La ilusión y la desilusión estéticas, Ed. Monte Ávila, Caracas, 1997, p. 85.

156. Jacques Lacan: “La función del velo” in La relación de objeto. El Seminario 4, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 1994, p. 159.

157. The intensification of the temporal process is what bestows most dignity on painting. Leonardo da Vinci in his Treatise on Painting [Trattato della pittura] wrote, “While the ear transmits the sensation and representation of named things with greater delay and confusion”, by contrast the eye “communicates swiftly and truly the figures that appear before its gaze.” (Leonardo da Vinci: Tratado de pintura, Editora Nacional, Madrid, 1979, p. 57).

158. Louis Aragon: “El desafío de la pintura” in Los collages, Ed. Síntesis, Madrid, 2001, pp. 33-34.

159. “Miró likes the subtle, ethereal beauty of the symbols expressing our earthliest wounds, which materialise that baseness and the most physical of means.” (Clara Renau: “Víctor Mira: armas de combate” in Mira, Galería Carles Poy, Barcelona, 1995).

160. “The harm that may be caused by interpreting dreams is unpredictable. This harm may remain hidden but how sensitive a dream is! No blood is shed when a butcher’s meat cleaver sunders a spider’s web but the latter is destroyed just the same for it will never be spun the same way again. Very few have the slightest inkling of the unique, unrepeatable nature of a dream. If this was not the case, interpreting dreams would be child’s play and commonplace …” (Elias Canetti: La provincia del hombre. Carnet de notas 1942-1972, Ed. Taurus, Madrid, 1982, p. 226).

161. “Early on, Freud lighted on the idea that a dream is an hallucination of an unconscious desire and he reformulated the notion in 1900. The concept quickly morphed into the primary model of the mind’s workings while asleep, in which there was a drift in the meaning of what was represented through processes such as displacement, whose importance could be detected in how the dream unfolded.” (Catherine Desprats-Péquignot: El psicoanálisis, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1997, p. 47).

162. Valentin N. Voloshinov: Freudismo. Un bosquejo crítico, Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 1999, p. 111.

163. “In The Theaetetus (157E et seq.), Plato argues that even the mistakes in dreams, the images in dreams and the hallucinations produced by an illness cannot be blithely ignored for one cannot deny that the dreamer or patient experienced what he did.” (F. M. Cornford: Platón y Parménides, Ed. Visor, Madrid, 1989, p. 340).

164. “Even in the best-interpreted dreams, we often have to leave one passage in obscurity because during the analysis we come across a tangle of dream-thoughts which cannot be unravelled, and that shed no further light on the dream-content. This, then, is the keystone of the dream, the point at which it ascends into the unknown. This is because the dream-thoughts we encounter during the interpretation often have no ending but instead run in all directions into the net-like entanglement of our intellectual world. It is from some denser part of this fabric that the dream-wish then arises, like a mushroom from its mycelium.” (Sigmund Freud: La interpretación de los sueños, vol. 3, Ed. Cátedra, Madrid, 1988, p. 152).

165. Cf. Jean Baudrillard: La ilusión y la desilusión estéticas, Ed. Monte Ávila, Caracas, 1998, p. 27.

166. “Ascetic pleasure is vain and closed in on itself and thus renounces pleasure. It is a pure pleasure that is willing to symbolise moral excellence and works of art as proof of ethical superiority and their incontrovertible power of sublimation as truly defining Man. This is the drift of ascetic discourse, which imposes a definition of what it is to be human. It boils down to trying to establish a monopoly on humanity” (Pierre Bourdieu: La distinción, Ed. Taurus, Madrid, 1988, pp. 501-502).

167. “The sense of the enigmatic is manifested in a meaning that cannot be expressed in formal terms. This leads us to two levels of enigma. Here there are two alternative (and reversible) schemes of comprehension that are equally but inversely applicable to artistic expression. The first arises not from the ambiguity or the ambivalence of the problem but rather the fact that it cannot be understood. This comprehension barrier stems from two issues: (1) that the relationships between meanings cannot be put into words; (2) that words are useless for descriptive purposes because there are two comprehension schemes whose formal co-existence leads to meaninglessness or to contradiction.” (José M. Cuesta Abad: Poema y enigma, Ed. Huerga & Fierro, Madrid, 1999, pp. 34-35).

168. “Double bind: Freud stated that “Unlimited receptive ability and maintaining long-lasting traces seem to exclude mechanisms that would provide a substitute for our memory. There is a need to renew the receptive surface or to destroy the signs recorded”. According to Freud, the idea of a Wunderblock [the notion of a magic mental ‘writing pad’] would allow one to overcome this double bind and resolve the contradiction. A necessary condition would be to relativise the pad and split it up depending on the function ascribed to the paper in each case. Only then “could this little notebook do more than a sheet of paper or a slate tablet”. The ‘magic block’ would not be a block of paper but rather a tablet in either resin or dark brown wax and would be bordered with paper.” (Jacques Derrida: Papel máquina. La cinta de máquina de escribir y otras respuestas, Ed. Trotta, Madrid, 2003, pp. 217-218).

169. Marina Tsvietáieva: Locuciones de la Sibila, Ed. Ellago, Castellón de la Plana, 2008, p. 57

170. Laporte highlights the fact that the art experience is an encounter with the unknown, with wild life, in which the artist risks annihilation: “It is a brave step — said Bram van Velde — towards the impossible”. “Bram van Velde, in effect, says over and over again: Painting makes me walk up to the brink of nothingness, the void. The artist is the bearer of life. I do not seek to solve this paradox or discover an explanation for the enigma but rather to discover whether I can frame these words by Bram van Velde in my own way: The artist experiences a secret that must be manifested” (Roger Laporte: Bram van Velde o esa pequeña cosa que fascina, Ed. Asphodel, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1984, p. 18).

171. Régis Debray remarks that “Too many novels trivialise what is new in a world in which the rejection of tradition has become the only tradition left standing. This process is now a slavish rite in which the new destroys itself. […] Ironically, loathing for the repetitive and fear of boredom has only ended up spawning both things. The constant flood of the new is one in which each wave of novelty breaks and vanishes before the next, washing up more of the same ad infinitum and ad nauseum. […] Freeing one from this unhealthy obsession with the present and recovering the order of the causes and likely meaning of the present is a way of liberating oneself from the fascination of all these images bombarding us at the speed of light”.

172. Clark refers to the practice of negation as a form of decisive innovation in methods, materials, and iconography, “where a set of skills or previously established reference frameworks — skills and references that hitherto were considered the key to producing any kind of worthwhile art — are deliberately avoided or traduced. The result is that today one can only produce ‘authentic painting’ through: sheer incompetence and obscurity; […] showing off deliberate pictorial clumsiness and the use of unsuitable paints; the use of degenerate, trivial or ‘unartistic’ materials; the rejection of a full awareness of the object; random or automated ways of doing things; a liking for the vestiges or fringes of social life; a desire to celebrate what is ‘insignificant’ or shameful in our modern age; the rejection of painting’s conventional narratives; the false reproduction of established pictorial genres; parody of the main styles of yesteryear.” (Timothy Clark cited in Brandon Taylor: Arte hoy, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2000, p. 116).

173. Thomas Lawson: “Última salida: la pintura” in Arte después de la modernidad. Nuevos planteamientos en torno a la representación, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2001, p. 161.

174. Judith Butler: “El marxismo y lo meramente cultural” in New Left Review, nº 2, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2000, p. 110.

175. “Irony too has been subsumed. To face the world in a vaguely ironic way, adopting a sarcastic tone has become a reflex action, a cliché. It has stopped being a method of overthrowing conventions and has become just another convention.” (Thomas Lawson: “Última salida: la pintura” in Arte después de la modernidad. Nuevos planteamientos en torno a la representación, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2001, p. 164).

176. Today’s art scene is a bleak one, what with: “the transformation of great exhibitions into moonscapes; the violent yet fleeting nature of ‘mould-breaking’ artistic projects; the triumph of quantity over quality; the way in which the public is taken for a ride; waning professionalism and the hanky-panky of art dealers; the cynical use made of artists and critics; the seal of approval given to cultural products; the spreading of a ‘climate of popular consensus’ focusing on the stars; the slide in critical judgment; the lack of conditions for fostering growth and originality; ignorance of excellence” (Mario Perniola: El arte y su sombra, Ed. Cátedra, Madrid, 2002, p. 12).

177. “There is a kind of event that I call “the echo of Black Holes” that drives people to cling to ridiculous regional symbols, objects, rituals, and reward behaviours at any price no matter how disastrous the consequences may be.” (Félix Guattari: La revolución molecular, Ed. Errata Naturæ, Madrid, 2017, p. 355).

178. “For an age that invented destruction without ruins, one needs to think differently, of other things, to conceive a different object — one that goes beyond memory and oblivion. What can Simonedes of Ceos do before an empty place? What can one do if, apart from death, the ruins too are dead and no trace of them is left? How can one recall that which leaves no trace? Memory itself is dead. Simonides the poet is silenced. Maybe one could argue that there was never anything there, not even an earth tremor — nothing and no one. In such case, something unthinkable and unimaginable will have returned. Instead of ruins, we would have to note their absence.” (Gérard Wajcman: El objeto del siglo, Ed. Amorrortu, Buenos Aires, 2001, p. 21).

179. José Lezama Lima in a letter to his sister Eloísa in 1963 wrote: “I have recalled much, which I have turned into experience”, the phrase used by Nietzsche in Zaratustra “the desert grows”. What a phrase for the times! It is one that evokes the relentless advance of the desert. […] Without freedom, there are no possibilities, no images, no poetry. Without freedom, there can be no truth.”

180. “A good place, the ideal topos for experiencing the sublime and to resolve the problem of presentation is to take the middle ground — a place in the middle of the visual body — that yields the greatest aesthetic impact without losing the mathematical infinite. Body should meet body at this point to form a ‘sublime’ body (which is to say, one that evokes a feeling of the sublime). It must be far enough away so that the maximum size appears and remains perceptible but still be close enough to be seen and ‘understood’ so that the viewer does not lose his way in the mathematical infinite. The distance needs to be carefully chosen so that the subject is neither too close nor too far away.” (Jacques Derrida: La verdad en pintura, Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 2001, p. 149).

181. “The groundswell of logic must therefore be based on rupture, on the most original of abysses in which light only emerges through the most monstrous and uncommon” considered Kant in his “Analytic of The Sublime”, contained in his third Critique, which attempted to square the notion with a dualistic base. No doubt influenced by his Christian beliefs, Kant argued that these telluric upsets were simply trials set by Mother Nature to make us understand that our sphere of truth “is not of this world” but one of rational, autonomous, moral beings.” (Félix Duque: La fresca ruina de la tierra, Ed. Calima, Palma de Mallorca, 2002, p. 103).

182. “This position of “powerless witness” is also a crucial component in the experience of the sublime: it is what we experience when we face something so awful that it exceeds our ability to represent it. It is so shocking that we can only look on in horror. Nevertheless, this event does not threaten us physically for we can observe it from the safe distance of an onlooker. Kant confines the experience of the sublime to examples of Nature (a stormy sea, mountain precipices, etc.), overlooking that human acts can also evoke horror (torture, murder and so on).” (Slavoj Zizek: Las metástasis del goce. Seis ensayos sobre la mujer y la causalidad, Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 2003, p. 121).

183. Cf. Victor I. Stoichita: Breve historia de la sombra, Ed. Siruela, Madrid, 1999.

184. Michel Foucault: Las palabras y las cosas, Ed. Orbis, Barcelona, 1985, p. 333.

185. Paul Auster: El país de las últimas cosas, Ed. Anagrama, Barcelona, 1994, p. 31.

186. Jean-Luc Nancy: Corpus, Ed. Arena, Madrid, 2003, p. 16.

187. “Today, the discourse on the body is linked to the discourse on metamorphosis” (Toni Negri: Del retorno. Abecedario biopolítico, Ed. Debate, Barcelona, 2003, p. 171).

188. Jean-Luc Nancy: Corpus, Ed. Arena, Madrid, 2003, p. 97.

189. “Seeing bodies does not reveal a mystery but rather involves seeing. The image (or rather the many images) of what a body is constitutes the nude image, which strips reality naked. This image resists every imaginary, every appearance, interpretation and attempt to decode it. With a body, there is nothing to decode save that it is both unique and universal. The vision of bodies does not venture into the realm of the invisible but instead goes hand-in-hand with the visible, whatever its ostentation or extension. Involvement, consent: he who sees appears with what is seen. Here one discerns the infinitely finite with clarity.” (Ibid., p. 38).

190. Ibid., p. 110.

191. “I do not believe that we should colonise delirium by imposing an alien rationality upon it. Rather, one should let it speak its own language as much as possible. The broader, health-based reason is that one is not facing an unknown antagonist but rather an ‘other’ suffering the same mental afflictions as oneself. Here, just like everyone else (delirious or rational), one needs to accept the possibility of failure and to fill the gaps with experience. However, I must admit that starting out from one’s prejudices, passions, and fragmentary information (and thus venturing beyond what is empirically and logically demonstrable) leads to building and believing in ‘castles in the air’. Yet as Montaigne ironically notes, sticking to the dullness of the paths most travelled dooms its practitioners to idiocy.” (Remo Bodei: Las lógicas del delirio. Razón, afectos, locura, Ed. Cátedra, Madrid, 2002, p. 118).

192. “It is no coincidence that the subjective figures churned out in television series (made bland to foster familiarity and compulsive, ‘purifying’ viewing habits) and psychoanalytic models are complementary in nature. The thread running through both does not stem from their content but rather from their processes of de-territorialisation/re-territorialisation and a relentless drive towards ever greater banality and superficiality.” (Félix Guattari: Cartografías esquizoanalíticas, Ed. Manantial, Buenos Aires, 2000, pp. 62-63).

193. Ingmar Bergman: De la vie des marionettes, Ed. Gallimard, Paris, 1980, p. 77.

194. “The final definition of camp is that it is beautiful because it is horrible.” (Susan Sontag: “Notas sobre lo camp” in Contra la interpretación, Ed. Seix Barral, Barcelona, 1984, p. 321).

195. Félix Duque: La fresca ruina de la tierra (Del arte y sus desechos), Ed. Calima, Palma de Mallorca, 2002, p. 44.

196. Emmanuel Levinas. El tiempo y el otro, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 1993, p. 134.

197. “Demeurer is a French verb that has various meanings. It originally meant delaying something for a given length of time and was also used in the same sense in Law. The question of delay is one that has always interested me and it is one I happily embrace when it comes to putting off death. Indeed, I have even defined survival as something distinct or distant from both life and death — as an original concept all my own. […] I have never been able to think about what Death has in store or to pay it the least attention. The same applies to waiting for death or fear of death as anything other than an affirmation of life. For me, life and death are two intertwined threads: being aware of impending death is not necessarily sad, negative, or morbid. On the contrary, it makes me live my life all the more intensely.” (Jacques Derrida: ¡Palabra! Instantáneas filosóficas, Ed. Trotta, Madrid, 2001, p. 41).

198. Hartmut Rosa: Alienación y aceleración Hacia una teoría crítica de la temporalidad en la modernidad tardía, Ed. Katz, Buenos Aires, 2016, p. 23.

199. “The invention of the window had to wait for the emergence of glazing technologies. Windows are perhaps one of the most important inventions in the history of visual culture, opening up architecture to new relationships between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, leading through analogy to a rethinking of the human body in terms of inner and outer spaces in which eyes became the windows of the soul, the ears became its porches, and the mouth its pearly gates. From Arab lattice-work and the adorned windows of Mediaeval Europe to the shop windows of modern shopping centres and Microsoft’s logo, the window is far from being a transparent, obvious, unmediated item.” (W. J. T. Mitchell: ¿Qué quieren las imágenes?, Ed. Sans Soleil, Vitoria, 2017, p. 271).

200. Writing in 2000, Jeremy Rifkin noted that “Global travel and tourism, theme cities and parks, destination entertainment centers, wellness, fashion and cuisine, professional sports and games, gambling, music, film, television, the virtual worlds of cyberspace, and electronically mediated entertainment of every kind are fast becoming the center of a new hyper-Capitalism that trades in access to cultural experiences.” Rifkin warned that: “While the age that has just finished was characterized by control over and exchange of goods, control over the exchange of ideas characterizes the age that is dawning. In the 21st Century, institutions will trade ever more with ideas, and people will increasingly pay for access to those ideas and the physical goods enshrining them.” (Jeremy Rifkin: La era del acceso. La revolución de la nueva economía, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2013, p. 48).

201. “Yet what is ‘our age’? Is it a post 9-11 world of terrorism and incipient forms of neo-Fascism ranging from the Talibans to the new American Imperialism? Is it the post-modern era or a modernity (as the philosopher and anthropologist Bruno Latour argues) that may never have existed? Is it an age defined by the new media and technologies, an age of “bio-cybernetic reproducibilty” taking over from the “mechanical reproduction” described by Walter Benjamin? Is it Marshall McLuhan’s “wired world” leading us to a future in which we will no longer be able to distinguish between a machine and a living being? Is it one in which a world bursting at the seams with ‘stuff’ will spawn new objectivist philosophies, while the old theories on vital forces wane, ‘fossilise’ and take on new meanings?” (W. J. T. Mitchell: La ciencia de la imagen. Iconología, cultura visual y estética de los medios, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2019, p. 214).

202. Comité Invisible: Ahora, Ed. Pepitas de Calabaza, Logroño, 2017, p. 147.

203. “The ‘lie’ in this world is an amoral matter, in which lack of truth is the least of our problems, displaced by other more important matters such as: self-deception, dreams, the strategies through which “people imagine things that turn out not to be what they seem”. They all form part of our Big Data age where all the interconnections among data, people, and things fall into this category.” (Frank Schirrmacher: Ego. Las trampas del juego capitalista, Ed. Ariel, Barcelona, 2014, p. 160).

204. Eli Pariser: El filtro burbuja. Cómo la red decide lo que leemos y lo que pensamos, Ed. Taurus, Madrid, 2017, p. 13.

205. “The nano-cataclysm began as science fiction. Drexler notes that “Our ability to order atoms is based on technology”, “even though this has traditionally been supposed to involve handling atoms like docile herds of sheep”. The precision engineering required to assemble atoms eschews such primitive methods, instead betting on molecular machines that will be “the biggest technological leap forward in history”. Neither logos nor history have the slightest chance of surviving this transition, for which reason this description is highly misleading.” (Nick Land: “Colapso” in Armen Avanessian and Mauro Reis (comps.): Aceleracionismo. Estrategias para una transición hacia el postcapitalismo, Ed. Caja Negra, Buenos Aires, 2017, pp. 56-57).

206. “Just as there were ‘courtly manners’ in monarchies, there are also “democratic manners” fostered by “emotional communities” under Fascism, Nazism and similar ideologies. From this point of view, contemporary society, whether we call it Neo-Capitalism or the ‘Show Society’ are framed by what Claudine Haroche termed “the culture of inattentiveness”: a culture in which the old manners (moderation, composure, decorum — everything that the 18th Century called “self-control” — fostered by a bourgeoisie opposed to the ‘violence’ and ‘tumult’ of the people) would gradually be transformed through perceptual strategies into something repulsive. Lack of attention, distance, and indifference is what this game of ‘self-control’ is all about today. A prime example is the “blind delicacy” with which we skirt round the body of a tramp on the underground), which is transformed by the aforementioned perceptual strategies into repulsion. This is a strategy of disinterest in what our fellow man does today amid a mass of “insignificant individuals”. The crucial point of these observations is that there is no contradiction between the two phenomena given that both reveal a desensitisation that leads to indifference and general repulsion.” (Georges Didi-Huberman: Pueblos en lágrimas, pueblos en armas, Ed. Shangrila, Santander, 2017, pp. 72-73).

207. In 2015, PornHub — a porn video web site — was visited for a total of 4,392,486,580 hours, which is to say two and a half-fold the time Homo sapiens has spent on Earth.

208. “Facebook in its most vulgar form incites one to blow one’s own trumpet about trivia before an imaginary doting public and in which the opportunity to share genuine problems vanishes in an instant.” (Martha Rosler: “Al servicio de la(s) experiencia(s)” in Clase cultural. Arte y gentrificación, Ed. Caja Negra, Buenos Aires, 2017, p. 189).

209. Freudian Studies on Hysteria speak of ‘active effects” or ‘stenian [narrow] effects’, an expression formulated to reveal the surprising powers of hysteria-induced movements (in relation to the question posed by the Ancients, “What can a body do?”). “Active effects” and “stenian effects” compensate for psychic excitation through a motor ‘discharge’. These effects are manifested by such things as: shouting; jumping for joy; greater muscular tone arising from wrath; swearing; reprisals. All these physical manifestations allow the hysteric subject to discharge his excitement through certain movements. Hysteria-induced ‘moral suffering’ is relieved by: heavy breathing; secretions; sobbing; weeping. Daily observations reveal that these reactions tend to lessen the subject’s hysteria.” (Gilles Deleuze: Francis Bacon. Logique de la sensation, Ed. de la Différence, Paris, 1981, p. 43).

210. “Domination by GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) causes people, places and fragments of the world to exist without having any real contact. gAfA’s avowed aim is “to link the whole world” but all it achieves is the isolation of individuals and the immobilisation of their bodies. It keeps each person in his own tiny bubble of ‘meaning’. The power of the Internet is to give everyone the feeling that they can access the whole world when in fact it estranges them from it. The more ‘friends’, ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ one has, the greater one’s autism. The serial multitude of public transport was always a solitary affair but nobody carried his own personal bubble with him — something that is clearly the case since the advent of the smart phone. It is a bubble that immunises one from any kind of contact and, moreover turns one into a stool-pigeon. It is no accident that the separation sought by cybernetics leads to each fragment of the whole acting like a paranoid microcosm.” (Comité Invisible: Ahora, Ed. Pepitas de Calabaza, Logroño, 2017, p. 52).

211. “[Theodore] Lewitt, Editor of Harvard Business Review is the man who popularised the term ‘globalisation’. In The Marketing Imagination, his 1983 bestseller, Levitt noted that as a result of the expansion of communications channels around the world, The United States finds itself uniquely well-placed to sell its products where it likes, to hawk its high-touch goods (jeans and Coca-Cola) together with its high-tech products (and along with them, Americanism and English), peddling them as the most desirable things in the world. “A powerful force is driving the world to converging homogeneity and that force is technology. […] Practically the whole world wants the things it has heard about, has seen, or has experienced through the new technologies” (Theodore Lewitt: “The Globalization of Markets” in Harvard Deusto Business Review, nº 1, 2001)” (Martha Rosler: “El modo artístico de la revolución: de la gentrificación a la ocupación” in Clase cultural. Arte y gentrificación, Ed. Caja Negra, Buenos Aires, 2017, p. 200).

212. “In such a setting, nothing counts more than conspicuous consumption. The further you go in life, the more material you will have accumulated and capitalised upon. Everything is organised in terms of limits, intensities, modulations. As Robin James says, “for Neo-Liberal subjects, the purpose of life is “to live it to the limit”. In the process, they get ever closer to the point of diminishing returns. […] Such a subject has an insatiable appetite for ever more, differentiating novelties. The goal is to reach “the brink of exhaustion”, following a rising curve yet be capable of stopping before the abyss and of treating one’s spendthrift career as an investment to be recouped at a profit. As James says, “the privileged lead more intense lives, lives of investment (individual and social) and of maximised profits”. Maybe this is why transgression no longer works as a subversive strategy. More precisely, transgression works all too well as a strategy for amassing either ‘cultural capital’ or even more wealth.” (Steven Shaviro: “Estética aceleracionista: ineficiencia necesaria en tiempos de subsunción real” in Armen Avanessian and Mauro Reis (comps.): Aceleracionismo. Estrategias para una transición hacia el postcapitalismo, Ed. Caja Negra, Buenos Aires, 2017, p. 175).

213. “The time is out of joint” wrote Gregory Bateson citing Hamlet. The growing connectivity and submission to the cognitive activity of digital machines has caused a disarticulation between the mutated pace of the ‘machineconnected’ mind and that of the bodily mind. As a result, one’s general intellect has separated from one’s body. The problem here is not the subject’s relationship to a given, static reality but rather his subjectivisation — the process whereby consciousness and mental reflection arise. The latter can no longer be considered in isolation but instead operate in the context of the technological setting and of social conflict. Subjectivation should also be seen as morphogenesis (that is to say, the creation of forms).” (Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi: Fenomenología del fin. Sensibilidad y mutación conectiva, Ed. Caja Negra, Buenos Aires, 2017, p. 251).

214. It is no accident that the section chosen by Vygotski for his Psicología del arte belongs to a great text by Spinoza on the emotions, in which he asks “What can a body do?” because up to now “nobody has discovered this” (Lev Vygotski: Psychologie de l’art, Ed. La Dispute, Paris, 2005, p. 13).

215. “That said, this key statement focuses on expressive gestures. Hence the main question posed by Deleuze in relation to the emotions. Here, he takes the question posed by The Ancients in Ethics — “What can a body do?” — as his starting point. It is a way of saying that expression is powerful because it is active — a condition that builds a sequence, forcing us to imagine. “The image is the idea of affection” sums up Deleuze, although he cautions us to “know the object by its effect. Here, he argues that we imagine when we think (in accordance with the interplay of ‘common notions’ and “the free harmony of imagination and reason”). Finally, we think of how to act (which Deleuze terms devenir-actif) — something that is intrinsic to all kinds of expression.” (Georges Didi-Huberman: Pueblos en lágrimas, pueblos en armas, Ed. Shangrila, Santander, 2017, p. 37).

216. Nick Land argues that: “Hyperstition is a positive feedback circuit that includes culture as one of its components. It can be defined as the experimental techno-science of self-fulfilling prophesies” (“Hypertition an introduction” in

217. “In other words, the macro and micro-structure of contemporary ideology exhibit both the centre and the circumference, the cause and the effect. Shows are both what is displayed and what is hidden, reproducing the agony of a colonised lifestyle and anaesthetising the populace with a kind of Prozac-induced shock and awe”. Guy Debord in La sociedad del espectáculo also noted that “it agonises” because of its own internal contradictions and its vulnerability to the kind of ‘spectacular defeat’ suffered on the 11th of September (a reverse magically converted into a spectacular victory by America’s Neo-Conservative hawks)” (W. J. T. Mitchell: La ciencia de la imagen. Iconología, cultura visual y estética de los medios, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2019, p. 197).

218. “The relationship between silence and writing has fascinated many authors. The blank page is steeped in silence — a feature that unites nothingness and creation. On another scale, in Genesis, The Creation is preceded by a silent blank page. For Maurice Blanchot, writing is absurd. “A dyke of paper ranged against an ocean of silence — it is the epitome of silence. Only He has the final word. Only He enshrines the idea of scattering the seed through words. In a nutshell, when we write, we lean towards Him […] we aspire to be Him. […] In writing, all of us — without realising it — wish to stay silent”. A blank sheet of paper is a space for creation.” (Alain Corbin: Historia del silencio. Del Renacimiento a nuestros días, Ed. Acantilado, Barcelona, 2019, p. 94).

219. Gleizes and Metzinger in Du cubisme noted that painting in targeting the masses should not resort to the language of the masses in putting its message across. Rather, art should use its own language to thrill, dominate, and direct, not to be understood. Is this a ‘religious’ approach? Clearly, Antoni Miró does not use his paintings to preach a creed. On the contrary, there is an activist component in his imaginary and even a tone of historical materialism that leads him to constantly delve into social dynamics.

220. At the end of his controversial review of ‘Communist fantasies’, François Furet delivers a devastating defence of the statu quo: “Man is used to projecting his unlimited hopes on society, not least because he is promised a freedom accorded to all. Yet for these promises to mean anything, Man should be able to transcend the horizon offered by Capitalism and a society split into rich and poor. Nevertheless, the end of Communism forces him back to the heart of bourgeois democracy. He then suddenly discovers (as if he had been born yesterday) what the complementary and contradictory terms of the Liberal equation are, namely The Rights of Man and the market — precisely what has nurtured messianic revolutionaries over the last two centuries. The idea of another kind of society has become impossible to think of and nobody in today’s world offers the slightest inkling of a new concept. We are thus condemned to dwell in this kind of world and no other.” (François Furet: El pasado de una ilusión. Ensayo sobre la idea comunista en el siglo xx, Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico, 1995, pp. 570-571).

221. “Over time, Antoni Miró has created a large oeuvre almost all of which falls into serialised discourses. His series are more or less broad snippets of the real world, whether in political, social, or historic terms. He has not only focused on great issues — understood as matters of a universal nature — but also on the problems and traditions of the country of his birth. Put another way, Miró is an internationally-famed artist whose work always has social goals, fostering ethical and aesthetic values — things that happen to be hallmarks of The Valencian Country’s culture. We should also recall that Miró has reinterpreted the works of great world artists (both past and present) to imbue them with new meanings through his art.” (Wences Rambla: “El Tribunal de les Aigües en l’obra d’Antoni Miró” in Tribunal de les Aigües. Antoni Miró, Generalitat Valenciana, València, 2018, p. 53).