The emotional body in painting. Reflections on the art of Antoni Miró
“I believe”, said John Berger, “that one looks at paintings in the hope of discovering a secret. Not a secret about art, but about life. And if one finds it, it will remain a secret, because, after all, it cannot be translated into words. With words all you can do is trace, by hand, a rough map of how to get to the secret”.1 For decades, Antoni Miró has made a passionate defence of figuration, aware that we need images or, echoing the iconoclastic polemic, assuming that without icons there is nothing.2
Arthur Danto has rightly pointed out that it is necessary to distinguish between the end of the history of art3 and the death of painting, the latter being based on imperatives apparently derived from an unquestionable logic of history; but when the “grand narratives” (legitimising modernism) have become discredited, it will not be possible to establish the path of reason unfolding in historical contingency, which reality would blindly obey. The questioning of the forms of representation, that pestilence of the imaginary that Artaud exemplarily embodied as the edge of the impossible, affects everything that would claim to maintain its capacity to “witness history” in the face of the empire of media multiplication. On the other hand, the forms of aesthetic experience end up finding an unveiling in certain investigations of their institutional dimension, with the acid awareness emerging that what we have revered as cultural memory also contains a monumental form of fetishism. Painting has not remained oblivious to this dismantling of the “classical forms of viewing”, without the problem being merely deciding between the abstract or figuration,4 since there are many contaminating aberrations that affect the two-dimensional surface. In any case, it does not seem reasonable to follow the now clichéd interpretation that photography brought about the “death of painting”,5 as it would suffice to consider Antoni Miró’s pictorial use of snapshots or images published in the media.
Painting is, as Picasso observed and as is evident in the work of Antoni Miró, about intelligence.6 A work of art cannot be merely an empty space, but is always full of noise,7 especially when it aspires to achieve, as is evident in Miró’s aesthetics, a singular exactitude. For Italo Calvino, accuracy means above all three things: a design that is well-defined and calculated, the evocation of clear, incisive and memorable images, and the most precise language possible as a lexicon and as a means of expressing the nuances of thought and imagination. We may think that accuracy is related, even if it seems paradoxical, to indeterminacy, but it is also related to the mystical conviction that “the good god is in the detail”. To understand exactitude might force us to speak of the infinite and the cosmos, drifting into Flaubertian delirium. Calvino points out that exactitude is the interplay of order and disorder, a crystallisation that may be determined by what Piaget calls the order of noise: “The universe unravels in a cloud of heat, precipitates irremediably in a whirlwind of entropy, but within this irreversible process there may be areas of order, fragments of existence that tend towards a form, privileged points from which it is possible to perceive a plan, a perspective”.8 To a large extent, accuracy places depth on the surface, makes the structure visible, turns the skin of the work into a mirror facing itself. Antoni Miró always wants his figuration to be more than a mere reflection of reality; he wants the painting to generate a sense of “mystery”, that is, not to exhaust its meaning as mere documentary.
Leonardo, by explaining the dual nature of images from the form itself, also developed the theoretical basis for this. According to him, painting “is not alive in itself, but without being alive, it gives expression to living objects”. The bodies painted by Antoni Miró have been subjected to a pictorial “slowing down” process that has, in a certain sense, the character of a conjuration against oblivion. “In the past, photography bore witness”, according to Barthes, “to something that had been there and was no longer there, and therefore to a definitive absence charged with nostalgia. Today, photography could instead be charged with a nostalgia for presence, in the sense that it is the last testimony of a live presence of the subject in relation to the object, the last challenge to the digital deployment in synthesised images that awaits us. The relationship between the image and its reference poses numerous problems in its representation. But when the reference has completely disappeared, when, therefore, we can no longer properly speak of representation, when the real object vanishes in the technical programming of the image, when the image is pure artefact, when it does not reflect anything or anyone and does not even pass through the negative phase, can we still speak of an image? Our images will soon cease to be images and our consumption itself will become virtual.9 Reality does not rest on a fantasy but on an inconsistent multitude of fantasies, on a multiplicity that creates the effect of impenetrable density that we sense as something that passes and remains. The representational device transforms force into power10 and, in the case of Antoni Miró, painting portrays and bears witness to that which cannot be forgotten, as in his Personatges series, which has something of a “personal pantheon” about it (as it portrays great cultural and political figures) but it is also a sort of “self-portrait through others”.11
Antoni Miró relies on the colours that, to a large extent, are inscribed in flesh.12 It is a matter of, as Picasso said, incorporating “as much humanity as possible” in the paintings.13 The Alcoi painter’s eroticism exorcises death, as is evident in the Havana Suite,14 without falling into the clutches of fear, on the contrary, he caresses with the brush the sensual corporeality that he gives to our vision. This artist, who always paints at night, never ceases to indulge in a journey of desire in which he moves from naked bodies to political demonstrations that spread the wildfire of indignation, from the semblances of historical commitment to bridges that give an account of constructive hope. “Antoni Miró is an Alcoyan from head to toe. He is also a universal artist. But these two things are not incompatible when it comes to expressing feelings through the canvas. Embarking on another of his numerous “series”, this one dedicated to the “Bridges and hillsides” of his native city offers yet another facet of a painter always waiting to be discovered”.15
Antoni Miró is, in all lucidity, a timeless artist who paints, literally, what he wants, refusing to march to the “goose-stepping” of aesthetic trends which, in many cases, are nothing more than a mixture of idiocy and pedantry. It would be very difficult to define the current historical task of painting, assuming that it were assigned one.16 Pontormo already pointed out in his letter to Benedetto Carchi that “a painting is nothing more than a piece of cotton woven in hell, which is short-lived and cheap: if the thin film [quello ricciolino] that covers it is removed, nobody notices it”. However, even if it is subjected to questioning, painting is still one of the most intense “dreams” of art,17 on this “surface” all kinds of obsessions have been fixed, and this visual luxury, by the effect of a kind of retro-projection, shapes or governs a destiny, whether singular or collective. “All existence —the fact of existence, or that there is existence— is the memory of something of which, by definition, there is no memory: birth”.18 Images seek to generate, in a certain sense, the “Medusa effect”, if I may use this gross simplification.19 The relationship between art and truth, as is evident in the work of Antoni Miró, will have to be indirect,20 beyond mimicry and, I would insist, beyond the comfort that leads to only doing “the right thing”, that is to say, the mediocre thing.
As Michaux pointed out, the artist is the one who resists the impulse not to leave traces, arranging the materials in a spatial setting equivalent to that of a crime scene; these traces point to and do not erase that which is never definitively manifested. At a time when we have, perhaps a little too calmly, adopted the idea of destinerrance, in the face of an ideology posing the virtualisation of the “world”, many veiled practices have appeared, traces of the different, indications that push us towards a creative drift: “we leave traces everywhere —viruses, lapsus, germs, catastrophes— signs of imperfection that are like man’s signature at the heart of this artificial world”.21 Works of art are understood as a function of the veil, established as an imaginary capturing and a place for the desire, the relation with a beyond, that is fundamental in every articulation of the symbolic relation: “It is the descent to the imaginary plane of the ternary rhythm subject-object-beyond that is fundamental to the symbolic relation. In other words, the function of the veil is to project the intermediate position of the object”.22 What Antoni Miró does is not to conceal reality but to try to intensify the temporal experience through art.23
“Miró has accustomed us to having our conscience shaken through themes derived from social injustice, aggression against human rights, marginalisation, war, apartheid, in short, social denunciation and to taking a stand through commitment and solidarity. But when the winds change, he turns with special sensitivity to other issues, such as the country’s identifying symbols, ancestral social customs, the Water Court, environmentalism, architecture, portraiture and other more intimate human aspects such as sensuality and eroticism”.24 It is necessary to recover, as Antoni Miró has, the capacity to contemplate reality and to incarnate symbols, giving free rein to his desires, aware that, by interpreting dreams, one simply ends up destroying them.25 Georges Didi-Huberman has reminded us that the “other life” is never given to us in advance. For this to take shape it is necessary “that we awaken to the dreams themselves”.26 As if, on awakening, the dream may reveal itself, eager to come out of itself. Antoni Miró starts from reality, but not merely to “imitate” it, but to question it, by highlighting injustices27 and maintaining a kind of principle of hope.28
The painter traverses this being-daring that is corporeality, exciting, linking and detaching the surface, offering figurative fragments or fixing gestures, foreshortenings, entering territories where abstraction is crossed by sensitive certainty. The thought-in-body of the painting is rhythmic, spatial, pulsing, marking time in an erotic approach, the force of that which is, without further nuances, the passage of the world. Let us recall Freud’s characterisation of the artist, based on his analysis of Michelangelo, as a man who avoids reality because he cannot familiarise himself with renouncing the satisfaction of his drives, a being who does not hide his phantasms, but who gives them form in real objects, and whose presentation of them is a source of aesthetic pleasure: this is the reward for seduction, this enjoyment of obsessions without shame or reproach. Painting is the art of bodies, because it only knows the skin, it is skin from one part to another. “And another name for local colour is carnation. Carnation is the great challenge thrown down by these millions of bodies in painting: not incarnation, where the body is filled with Spirit, but simple carnation through the heartbeat, colour, frequency and nuance, of a place, of an occurence”.29 When our most intimate pleasure is publicly revealed we blush and want to be swallowed up by the earth, that is (to force the point), the excessive carnation of the face is contemporary with the desire to go deeper into the matricial abyss, perhaps what the artist seeks, in the midst of the metamorphic bodily events,30 is a space in which desire, even if it is a pure imploding, does not have to be concealed.
One must be prepared to listen to the unheard, but one must also try to touch the body with the incorporeality of meaning or, as Antoni Miró does, with the carnation of painting. Perhaps the meaning is a touch, something that recognises the bearing of the figure, that shows that pleasure has to do, above all, with touch, something that can be done, of course, with the gaze and with thought. “Touching the interruption of meaning”, says Jean-Luc Nancy, “this is what interests me about the body”.31 Thanks, among other things, to painting, we see bodies as a consent of the visible itself:32 the painting is outside, skin, appearance. “The body is the experience of indefinitely touching the untouchable, but in the sense that the untouchable is not what lies behind it, neither an inside nor a within, neither a mass nor a God. The untouchable is what this touches. This can also be expressed in other words: that which touches, that by which it is touched, is on the level of emotion”.33 Antoni Miró’s painting invites us to touch the world again, to feel the aura of the real, by assuming we can have a poetic relationship with things.
In order to reflect on the work of Antoni Miró, we can bring to mind the thoughts of Merleau-Ponty, who intertwines the visual, the carnal and the phenomenal worlds in such a way that subjectivity itself is impregnated with a marked materiality. In The Visible and the Invisible, published in 1964, eye and body were part of the interface of subjective being, seeing and touching generated the chiasmus of immanent experience. The eye inhabited the density of the body, just as the body literally motivated the eye, set it in motion.34 It is clear that Antoni Miró touches the desired bodies with his eyes, intensifying his erotic paintings from 2018 onwards, showing the full potential of the female body, giving free rein to the passion of his gaze.35 “The painter Antoni Miro, in the depth of his unalterable mirrors and the intimate lucidity of his creative discourse”, says Josep Sou, “summons us today, as he has always done, to enjoy the delicate contact of experience. And the bodies, now naked, candid in the reverberation of the sleepless night, offer all the powers that interest identifies”.36 Antoni Miró maintains the conviction that colours transmit the sensation of the living,37 in his paintings the real “pulsates” and is recreated in an extraordinary manner. He is, without any doubt, an “uninhibited” creator, someone who has always raised the flag of freedom, always searching for the intensity of the human.38
Godard affirms that it is not a matter of showing true things, but of showing how things really are, taking up Brecht who in 1935 named “the five difficulties of telling the truth”: the intelligence of fidelity, the morality of the tragic, the feeling of urgency, the will to experience and the courage of sanctity. For the author of Madre coraje, being a realist in art implies being a realist outside art as well. A passion for the real persists in contemporary art and particularly in the work of Antoni Miró after the search (surrealist and, in general, typical of the avant-garde) for a “convulsive beauty”; our “deconstruction” may be nothing more than a continuation of the materialist and, fortunately, atheist thought that led, among other things, to a desacralisation of art and even to a decomposition of the Romantic idea of the artist.39 In an era marked by the biopolitics of fear,40 in which ideologies, according to authorised spokespersons, have “ended”, some artistic processes attempt to account for the precariousness of life, reconsidering the meaning of community, but starting from the fragile dimension of corporeality.
“In a world”, notes Ernst Fisher, “in which man’s consciousness lags behind the being of things, where an error in an electronic brain, the slightest mechanical failure, the foolishness or recklessness of a bomber pilot can cause unimaginable catastrophes, it is more necessary than ever to be informed about reality. The language of the journalist, of the propagandist, of the politician is not enough to provide a clear vision of reality and at the same time to overcome the widespread feeling of powerlessness, to convince people that they are capable of changing the course of destiny. This work requires the intervention of the artist, the poet, the writer, it necessitates the suggestive representation and evocation of reality that constitutes the nature of art”.41 As Hannah Arendt said, we only need to keep our eyes open “to see that we are in a real wasteland”. The intellectual and the artist have, fundamentally, to try to conquer, as Antoni Miró does in his paintings, a piece of humanity.
Antoni Miró does not represent reality by softening it, his gaze is not sublimating, on the contrary, when he looks at the city he does not think solely from a tourist’s perspective, instead he reveals the place occupied by the disinherited.42 In my essay in the catalogue for the Antoni Miró exhibition at IVAM, I addressed, among other issues, Miró’s series on the marginalised, his paintings of the homeless that contrast with the visions of the museums. This mixture of cultural memory and the reality experienced by the homeless reveals the intensity of this Valencian artist’s critical imagination. One of the intense series he presented at La Base in València is the series of demonstration paintings that he has created in recent years. Antoni Miró uses photographs of political demonstrations as a starting point and proposes a particular re-visioning of moments of indignation. This artist certainly knows how to discomfort the collective consciousness43 while maintaining a utopian dimension, that is to say, a confidence that a strategy of resistance could lead to a better society. Antoni Miró, always attentive to the critical dynamics of the society in which he lives, takes into account the social movements that have become truly “eruptive” in recent times. Beyond the post-modern discourse regarding the end of history, we are witnessing both a resurrection (stridently atheistic) of bodies and a reappearance of rebellion with the intention of producing historical events. From the revolts in the Arab squares to the Puerta del Sol Camp or the Occupy Wall Street movement, a wildfire of indignation is spreading around the world. Austerity policies only succeed in generating a re-politicisation of the social body.44 With extraordinary moral integrity and an admirable civic spirit, Antoni Miró, as exemplified in the Mani-Festa series, never ceases to denounce the abuses of power.45
A work of art should be able, on the condition of making the “story narratable”, to produce the anticipation of talking to others. Although we might think we live in the land of the lotophagi, we should also be wary of the twisted and ultimately banal use of that story” which is perhaps, as Nietzsche pointed out in his second Untimely Meditations, the source of a disease where cynicism is one of its symptoms. Beyond the “commemorative delirium”,46 we could begin to remember in another way. In Antoni Miró’s figurative painting nothing is strictly mechanical, for —as Nelson Goodman reminds us— all effective representations or descriptions of reality require, above all, invention.
Paradoxically, when the whole world has become a museum,47 we suffer from an absolute crisis of memory and what we need is not a “heritagisation” of anything (in a sort of fossilisation of the anodyne that has genealogical anchors in what we could call duchampitis), but images and discourses that provide a modicum of hope.48 “Time in history,” notes Jacques Rancière, “is not only the time of great collective destinies. It is the time when anyone and anything makes history and bears witness to history. The pink in the cheeks of The Milkmaid of Bordeaux responds to the wax mask of those shot in [Goya’s] The Third of May. The time of the promise of emancipation is also the time when every skin is capable of manifesting the brightness of the sun, everybody is authorised to enjoy it while they can and to make this enjoyment felt as a testimony of history”.49 Perhaps this “sunshine”, this hint of hope, is what I find in the aesthetics of Antoni Miró, an artist who, in one of his series, revisited the museum space as if he wanted to give it back “a little life”.
Even Norbert Wiener, one of the pioneers of cybernetics, pointed out that we need art and beauty to survive.50 The “algorithmic conduction” of existence is not enough, we have a longing for hidden harmonies, together with a desire for something extraordinary. Every good painting ends up being more than a “simple image” or, to put it another way, it is a reality that we never fully understand.51 The works of Antoni Miró are exemplary proof that art has by no means renounced beauty, without this meaning that we forget (historical and subjective) suffering.52 Isabel-Clara Simó underlined that this artist “has made the human body an altar to beauty”;53 for this painter it is fundamental to keep desire present in order to make bodies visible.
Antoni Miró does not conceal reality but tries to intensify the temporal experience through art.54 It doesn’t matter that the “hand of art” doesn’t catch anything, because its “hunting” reveals the background, the wall that allows us to inhabit this reality.55 In all the pictures Antoni Miró has painted there is a vital passion, the desire to find the desired likeness. If desire is the driving force of existence, this artist also shows a desire to free himself from its chains and repressions.56 He deals with the things that allow us to do more than simply survive (sur-vive) or, at least, that which can teach us to delay the fatal moment.57 We will always (fortunately) be missing an image and, when we become aware of how little time we have, we will feel that we need it. The task of observing continues when the writing ends; the delightful moment of contemplative solitude in silence allows us, synaesthesia notwithstanding, to see the unheard.58 Art can denounce reality59 and it is also the sediment of the most intense emotions because, as Julian Barnes pointed out, art not only captures and reflects the excitement, the emotion that life contains: “Sometimes it goes even further: art is this emotion”.60
2. Let us recall one of the most important arguments used in the Byzantine world to combat iconoclasm: “It is not Christ”, Nikephoros warned, “but the entire universe that disappears if there is no more circumscription or icons”. On the other hand, in 1939, the French political scientist Anatole de Monzie said “more than ever, men have a need for images. They need them to guide their curiosity, to stock their memories, to sustain their enthusiasms and their approbations”.
4. “For painting, this moment is the culminating moment of absolute autonomy, in which painting is no longer subjected to the demands of external reality, as in tradition, nor to those of the material, as in modernity. The history of painting has been a history of what Kant calls heteronomy, where the will submits to external conditioning” (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).
6. “Painting is a thing of intelligence. You see it in Manet. Intelligence is seen in each of Manet’s brushstrokes, and the action of intelligence is visible in the film about Matisse, when Matisse is seen painting, hesitating, and then expressing his thoughts with a deft touch of the brush” (Pablo Picasso in Alexander Liberman: “Picasso” in Picasso. El arte no es la verdad, I, Ed. Confluencias, Madrid, 2020, p. 210).
7. “But the primordial noise, the ultimate reminder of the Big Bang, is a constituent of space itself: it is not a noise «in» space, but a noise that keeps space open, as such. Therefore, if we were to eliminate this noise, we would not get «empty space» that was previously filled by the noise: space itself, the receptacle for every «creature of the world», would vanish. This noise is therefore, in a sense, the very «sound of silence»” (Slavoj Zizek: The Plague of Fantasies, Ed. Siglo XXI, Mexico, 1999, p.205).
10. “Hence the hypothesis formulated by Louis Marin: the representative device would have the function of effecting the transformation of force into power, on the one hand by re-presenting it (in the space and time of the realm), on the other hand by legitimising it. «If representation in general has a double power: that of making the absent and the dead present again, even alive, in an imaginary way, and that of constituting its own legitimate and authorised subject by exhibiting qualifications, justifications [...], in other words, if representation not only reproduces in fact but also in law the conditions that make its reproduction possible, then we understand the interest of power in appropriating it. Representation and power are of an equal nature»” (Christian Salmon: La Ceremonia Caníbal. Sobre la performance política, Ed. Península, Madrid, 2013, p. 109).
11. “It seems that this is indeed the case, forming a kind of myth of Narcissus in reverse. Although we are told beforehand that once he is recognised, seeing himself reflected in a mirror would solve the problem, it seems that, on the contrary, with what the painter proposes —which is nothing more than to stand before the valuable other, establish empathy with the character and thus begin to appreciate their work— we would begin the path to the solution (Santiago Pastor Vila: “Personatges de Antoni Miró, de ahora y de antes” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 343).
12. “The colour would be the inscription in the flesh, the fruit of a tenderness whose suffering source would be the light. In that which is born, exchanged and dies in the depths of the epidermis —that depth of the skin of which the poet spoke— who can understand the enigma of those bodily cavities, openings, orifices, whose properties and sensations are exchanged, and the passions and pleasures, in a body that becomes hysterical? “The human soul is contained in the nerves of the body”, wrote President Schreber, who believed that the sun’s rays came from his entrails. Modern psychiatry has gone further than the Carthusian mystics: not only the eye but also the anus can be solar. (Jean Clair: Elogio de lo visible, Ed. Seix Barral, Barcelona, 1999, p. 142).
13. “I am not looking for anything, I just try to incorporate as much humanity as possible in my paintings. So much the worse if I offend some idolaters of the conventional human effigy. They only have to look in the mirror What is a face, after all? its photo? its make-up? or the face as depicted by this or that painter? What is in front of it, and in front of that? And behind? And what remains, doesn’t everyone see it in their own way? There are hardly any distortions. Toulouse-Lautrec and Daumier saw the face differently from Ingres or Renoir. That is all. I see it this way I mean, I don’t paint more than I see. I have seen it, I have felt it; it may have been different at other times in my life, but I have never painted anything other than what I have seen and felt. A painter’s way of painting is like their handwriting for graphologists. The whole of humanity is within it. The rest is literature, the commentary on commentaries. This is of no more importance to it than to the painter” (Pablo Picasso in Anatole Jakovsky: “Mediodía con Picasso” in Picasso. El arte no es la verdad, I, Ed. Confluencias, Madrid, 2020, pp. 141-142).
14. “The Havana Suite by Antoni Miró navigates these seas but in other latitudes; part of the Ethos, that is, from the honesty of the proposal, to sometimes evoke and sometimes define, without semiotic ambiguity, but without accentuating or distorting. Antoni Miró uses the Eros as a tool for expressing his inner Pathos, leaving aside (not forgotten) Thanatos and wondering whether the petite mort we experience in orgasm is the avant-goût that gives way to ecstasy or death “(José Luis Antequera: “Suite Havana, Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 338).
17. “In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud in describing the ways and procedures of dreams, risks a comparison with painting (which has become hackneyed), the outline of which is in fact taken from Vasari’s text: in his «Life of Cimabue» he evokes how painting, after having resorted for a long time to inscriptions or phylacteries to convey the message it was trying to convey, supposedly develops, with Cimabue and even more with Giotto, its own means of expression, which, as far as they are specific, no longer owe anything to articulated language” (Hubert Damisch: El desnivel. La fotografía puesta a prueba, Ed. La Marca, Buenos Aires, 2008, p. 162).
19. “The art historian and critic Michael Fried sums up the «primordial convention» of images precisely in these terms: «A painting [...] first had to attract the viewer, then capture them and finally fascinate the viewer, that is, a painting had to call someone, attract them, to stop them in front of it and hold them there as if they were enchanted and unable to move». The desire of paintings, in short, is to change their place with the viewer, to subjugate or paralyse the viewer, turning him or her into an image for the gaze of the painting, in what can be called the «Medusa effect»” (W. J. T. Michael: What do Pictures Want?, Ed. Sans Soleil, Vitoria, 2017, p. 62).
20. “The artist has no power, but maintains some relationship with the truth; their work, always allegorical when it is a great work, takes it obliquely; their world is the indirect truth” (Roland Barthes: “Querido Antonioni...” in La Torre Eiffel. Textos sobre la imagen, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2001, p. 180).
23. It is the intensification of the temporal process that gives a painting great dignity. While the ear, wrote Leonardo da Vinci in his Treatise on Painting, “transmits to the sensibilities the representation of the things named with the greatest confusion and delay”, the eye on the other hand “communicates with the utmost haste and truth the fullness of what appears before it” (Leonardo da Vinci, Tratado de pintura, Ed. Nacional, Madrid, 1979, p. 57).
25. “The damage interpreting dreams can cause is unpredictable. This destruction remains hidden, but how sensitive is a dream! You don’t see any blood on the killer’s axe when he attacks the spider web, but what destruction! ... and it will never be spun the same again. Very few suspect the unique and unrepeatable character of every dream, how else could they strip it bare and make it commonplace...” (Elias Canetti: La provincia del hombre. Carnet de notas 1942-1972, Ed. Taurus, Madrid, 1982, p. 226).
26. “It is a question of fabricating the concrete conditions of an «other life». On the other hand, it is not that we “wake up from our dreams”, no. On the contrary, what we do is awaken to the dreams themselves, which were the prophecies —in image-flashes, in fleeting sensations, in extravagant words, in deep emotions, in unleashed gestures— of our present decision to get out of bed” (Georges Didi-Huberman: Desear desobedecer. Lo que nos levanta, 1, Ed. Abada, Madrid, 2020, p. 375).
27. “With his great capacity to feed off reality, he uses the codes of reality through the media, which is the closest thing to skilfully, intelligently and effectively reusing the resources with which the media manipulate and attack us, to use his own weapons in the form of a boomerang, denouncing injustice and precariousness through art, and, moreover, doing so tirelessly, stubbornly, without concessions, as often as he detects an injustice to reject” (Carmen Jorques Aracil: “I Antoni Miró es «Mani-Festa»” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 339).
28. “The art of Antoni Miró is the voice, the look, the provocation, the hope, the precariousness, the courage, the commitment, the beauty of everyday life, the art of Antoni Miró is ART” (Silvestre Vilaplana: “El arte de Antoni Miró: para entender una utopía” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 344).
32. “Seeing a body is not to unveil a mystery, it is to see what is offered to the eye, the image, the multitude of images that is the body, the naked image, which lays bare the reality of the body. This image is foreign to every imaginary, to every appearance —and also to every interpretation, to all deciphering. Of a body there is nothing to decipher —except this, that the cipher of a body is that very body, unencrypted, extensive. The sight of bodies does not penetrate into anything invisible: it is an accomplice of the visible, of the ostentation and the extension that the visible is. Complicity, consent: the one who sees appears through what is seen. Thus, they are discerned, according to the infinitely finite measure of just clarity” (Jean-Luc Nancy: Corpus, Ed. Arena, Madrid, 2003, p. 38).
34. “Since the same body sees and touches, visible and tangible belong to the same world. It is a wonder all too often unobserved that every movement of my eyesindeed, every displacement of my body— takes place in the same visible universe that they detail and explore, just as, conversely, all vision takes place somewhere within tactile space. There is a double and crossed relief of the visible within the tangible and of the tangible within the visible” (Maurice Merleau-Ponty: “The Intertwining-The Chiasm” in The Visible and the Invisible, Ed. Nueva Visión, Buenos Aires, 2010, p. 122).
35. Martí Domínguez also indicates that this eroticism is manifest in the series Viatge a Grècia and, of course, in the engravings of the Suite erótica, unfolding “a Mironian cosmos, so direct and devoid of veils, it is as if the painter, after the seventies, had decided to speak clearly, without ambiguity, and to show things without so much suspicion. Without any brake. It is a Miró unchained, particularly wild “(Martí Domínguez: “Miró desencadenado. A propósito de las series eróticas de Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 333).
37. Both in the common consciousness and in the tradition of European aesthetics, from the writings of the Church Fathers to Diderot, Hegel or Matisse, colour has always been perceived and theorised as the affirmation of sensuality, as the privileged medium of the sensation of the living.
38. “Antoni Miró is a daring, uninhibited painter, courageous in his brushstrokes, who over the years has increasingly expressed his vision of the human body in an unflinching manner” (Martí Domínguez: “Miró desencadenado. A propósito de las series eróticas de Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 333).
40. “With a specialised, depoliticised and socially objective administration, and with the coordination of interests as the zero level in politics, the only way to introduce passion into this field, to actively mobilise people, is to make use of fear, the basic constituent of today’s subjectivity. For this reason, biopolitics is ultimately the politics of fear that focuses on defending against potential harassment or victimisation” (Slavoj Zizek: Violence. Six Sideways Reflections, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2009, p. 56).
42. “The city represented by Miró often becomes a container of souls that includes the casual worker and the tourist, but also the dispossessed: immigrants and newcomers, people born in the city smothered by the need, homeless and people arriving from other points of the country, of the planet, looking for new opportunities, fallen out of favour at some point.” (David Rico: Pobresa, marginalitat i exclusió social en l’obra artística d’Antoni Miró, Ed. Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 21).
43. “But far from exhausting the references used by the painter in an artistic metalanguage, Antoni Miró’s iconic universe is direct, powerful, rescued from the daily pulse of reality; a repertoire of images with a return journey, since through an artistic and ideological contextualisation —and in this sense it is worth highlighting the author’s coherence throughout his career— we are given back this whole iconographic set reinforced in its power, depth and significance; works that force a reaction, that achieve their purpose of making consciences uncomfortable” (Joan Àngel Blasco Carrascosa: “Antoni Miró. Una intensa trayectoria” in Antoni Miró. Una intensa trajectòria, Consorci de Museus de la Comunitat Valenciana, 2003, p. 12).
44. “[…] the “Mani-Festa” collection, made between 2012 and 2015, which focused on deploying his work based on images of reality provided by the mass media. These are completely popular thanks to social media, but can sometimes be manipulated. Miró reveals the truth of these images. His is a critical and true chronicle of the social reality of the time. The title of the exhibition is a play on words. Celebration (festa) is present in a demonstration (manifestació), which is in itself a celebration of freedom. Miró states that a demonstration is “the expression of a part of the people, an expression that has always interested me.” And in the face of this popular, free, vindictive and street expression, Miró shows us the forcefulness and violence exerted by the authorities through the violent actions of the security forces that charge protesters.” (Jordi Tormo: Antoni Miró. La mirada rebel, Ed. Càtedra Antoni Miró d’Art Contemporani, Universitat d’Alacant, 2017, p. 92).
45. “And Antoni Miró, through artistic creation, shows, with passion and intensity, the repressions, baton charges and demonstrations all over the world, the West Bank, Australia, Cyprus, Palestine, Portugal, Ukraine, the Valencian Spring, the pro-independence demonstrations in Catalonia, or those protesting against evictions, etc. with a watchful eye, an unequivocal and forceful ideological response. Mani-Festa constitutes a veritable mural of social revolt against abuses of power with which Antoni Miró places «his action, both personal and creative, at the service of what he considers just and worthy, therefore, of being defended, giving form to the commitment that the work of art signifies», writes Josep Sou” (Carmen Jorques Aracil: “I Antoni Miró es «Mani-Festa»” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 340).
46. “It seems that a museum is inaugurated every day in Europe, and activities that were once utilitarian in nature have now become objects of contemplation: there is talk of a crêpe museum in Brittany, a gold museum in Berry, etc. Not a month goes by without some remarkable event being commemorated, so much so that one wonders if there are enough days left for new events to be commemorated in the 21st century” (Tzvetan Todorov: Los abusos de la memoria, Ed. Paidós, Barcelona, 2008, p. 87).
47. A year before the Nazis came to power, Ernst Jünger observed that we live in a world that resembles a construction on the one hand and a museum on the other: “We have arrived at a kind of historical fetishism that is directly related to the false creative force. It is also a consoling thought that, as a consequence of the development of grandiose means of destruction, a kind of secret correspondence accompanies the accumulation and preservation of what is called cultural heritage”.
48. “It is a matter, as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari have argued, of producing an image capable of «entrusting to the ear of the future the persistent sensations that embody the event: the ever-renewed suffering of man, their re-enacted protest, their struggle reiterated again and again». […] It is here, finally, that an art touches, not «life», as is often said, but a life: the «impersonal and yet singular life» whose «determination of immanence» Gilles Deleuze sought at the very end of his own. Now, the most «vital» element of this life, its beautiful energy of protest, of creation, its very virtus, resides for Deleuze in what we have recognised, from Warburg to Pasolini, as the challenge of pain: «A wound is embodied or actualised in a state of things and an experience; but it is itself a pure virtuality on the plane of immanence that leads us to a life. My wound existed before me” (Georges Didi-Huberman: Pueblos expuestos, pueblos figurantes Ed. Manantial, Buenos Aires, 2014, p. 221).
50. “In art, the desire to find new things to say and new ways of expressing them is the source of interest and vitality. […] Beauty [...], like order, appears in many places in this world, but only as a temporary, localised struggle against the Niagara of growing entropy” (Norbert Wiener; Cibernética y sociedad, Ed. Sudamericana, Buenos Aires, 1969, p. 125).
51. “I only know that I have never been fascinated by a painting that I fully understand. I need to have the feeling that I am missing something in order to profess my love. This quality of cryptic excess perhaps explains the language people use when viewing a work of art, as if an inanimate object were endowed with an elusive, almost sacred power. In a culture inundated by simplistic images that flash across a screen, that gaze at us furtively from magazines or loom over us in the streets of a city, images so coded, so easy to interpret that they require nothing more from us than money, looking long and hard at a painting can allow us to enter into the enigma of contemplation, because we must strive to make sense of the image before us” (Siri Hustvedt: “The Pleasures of Bewilderment” in The Mysteries of the Rectangle, Ed. Circe, Barcelona, 2007, p. 33).
52. “«It would be better for art to disappear completely than to forget the suffering from which it arises», we read in Aesthetic Theory [by Theodor W. Adorno]. Or we can take a completely opposite route [...] in which aesthetic pleasure is first and foremost carnal enjoyment, the enjoyment that is exhibited in creative gestures, given that the creative intention (the purpose) is manifested in the form (the design). From all this it turns out that art has not renounced beauty at all. […] Beauty is beyond the pleasurable, [...] it is a form desired but not achieved, a form towards which we strive. It is the sensitive flash of truth” (Jérôme Lèbre in conversation with Jean-Luc Nancy: Señales sensibles. Conversación a propósito de las artes, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2020. p. 55). “Beauty is perhaps the fundamental axis that directs the hand of the artist Antoni Miró to dig into the clay that hosts the raw material” (Josep Sou: “Nus i Nues” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 334).
53. “Antoni Miró has made the human body an altar to beauty, from the arse hole to the haughty nipples. He has broken norms —which I suspect is the thing he loves most in the world— and has been embracing beauty, which religions have always denied” (Isabel-Clara Simó: “Nus i Nues, d’Antoni Miró” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 330).
55. “The role of art has always consisted, since that prehistoric negative hand which grasps the void, in interrupting production in an unfinished product that tells us where we are in our double relationship with a nature that has never been and with a technical production that has been, is and will be: just as the way that the background to this production of form functions, what it brings to the surface, and its unique beauty, both natural and artificial, is the revelation of this background” (Jérôme Lèbre in conversation with Jean-Luc Nancy: Señales sensibles. Conversación a propósito de las artes, Ed. Akal, Madrid, 2020, p. 88).
57. [Translator’s Note: The original text uses the Spanish verb “demorar”, to delay, written in the form “de-morar”] “Demeure is a French verb with many meanings. Originally, demeurer meant “to postpone until later”, it designates the deferred, a determined delay, also in terms of law. The question of delay has always kept me busy and I will not oppose surviving death. I have even gone so far as to define survival as a possibility different or alien to both death and life, as an original concept. […] I could never think of the thought of death or the attention to death, even the waiting or the anguish of death, as something other than the affirmation of life. These are two movements that, for me, are inseparable: an attention at all times to the imminence of death is not necessarily sad, negative or deadly, but on the contrary, for me, life itself, the greatest intensity of life” (Jacques Derrida: ¡Palabra! Instantáneas filosóficas, Ed. Trotta, Madrid, 2001, p. 41).
58. “The relationship between silence and writing has fascinated a number of authors. The vertigo of the blank page is impregnated with silence, it is a feature that unites nothingness and creation. On another scale, in Genesis, Creation is preceded by a silent blank page. For Maurice Blanchot, writing is laughable. «A paper dam against an ocean of silence. Silence. Only it has the last word. It alone encapsulates the meaning scattered through the words. And deep down, when we write, we tend towards it, [ ... ] we aspire to it. […] When writing, we all want, without realising it, to be silent». The blank page is a creative space” (Alain Corbin: Historia del silencio. Del Renacimiento a nuestros días, Ed. Acantilado, Barcelona, 2019, p. 94).
59. “Isabel-Clara Simó, who knew him [Antoni Miró] very well, told us: “He paints to denounce reality, to look at it with fiery eyes, to break the silence of fate. Antoni Miró is a fighter. And yet, he is very tender and full of love. Call it solidarity, if you will…»” (Carmen Jorques Aracil: “I Antoni Miró es «Mani-Festa»” in Antoni Miró. De Museu, Museu Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, p. 341).