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Antoni Miró, we want to the impossible

Joan María Pujals

The main purpose of art in western culture has been to bring to consciousness what had been unconscious -to harmonize people with themselves and to make the world intelligible- to harmonize people with nature and with society. Antoni Miró’s painting enrols in this double combat from the most radical conviction that beauty is much more than static reality: for Antoni Miró, beauty is, more than anything else, a spirit of transformation.

Antoni Miró, the painter from Alcoy, is an artist that perfectly represents the new symbols of our time. Nowadays it is very evident that figuration is renovated and filled with meaning. And that every day that goes by improves the conditions for new “realisms” –as pop art has been from the sixties– to end up imposing themselves over the “realisms” or disfigurations that have characterized the 20th century: cubism, surrealism, abstraction, conceptualism... in the field of plastic arts. Art, once again, anticipates what possibly will be a majority demand from people in a world that is becoming more and more globalized: reconciliation with concrete physical reality, with daily objects, with the nearest environment.

We actually live in a stage of transition towards a new reality (that is, at the same time, an “ultra reality”): a reality that is “virtual” or full of the possibilities that new technologies present us with, expanding the limits of space and time (that we have of until now in perspectives and logical sequences that are not given simultaneity). Aesthetic changes with the change in material possibilities. At the end of the 19th century a similar phenomenon occurred, although of an opposite sign: the new technologies of that period –photography above all– changed the artistic point of view; so that in the plastic arts objectivism in the detailed reproduction of external reality gave way to impressionism, where the impression the exterior of the object provoked in the interior of the subject was more important than faithfulness to the model.

Neither personality nor originality that is possible exists without identity. Antoni Miró is a committed artist. In the first place, to his cultural identity -that archetypically comes from the Baroque, very present in Valencian culture, and ends in pop-art and social realism. Antoni Miró’s work -that often has a grotesque, satirical tone- is Valencian one hundred percent. And it cannot be explained otherwise; it has to be explained as a key of demystification and denunciation, purposes that he always serves with his drawings of great quality and his brilliant images.

Antoni Miró exercises social and political criticism as he openly denounces concrete cases of violations of human rights, racism or cultural manipulation. And one of his main traits is that he uses images of every kind (from important works in the history of painting to the rudest advertisements) mixing and distorting them with critical intent. Josep Corredor-Matheos tells us of conceived "his Cartesian will to exhaust a subject to it’s to last possibilities”. In “Dona dels Balcans” (Balkan Woman, 1996), etching on paper, we can see the dialogue between a nude body and the remains of a medieval armour. A body transformed, fragile, and dispossessed: it is the image of a war that has found a meagre shield from military siege in the tatters of medieval scrap metal.

The novelist Manuel Vicent says that Antoni Miró is a master of irony. This is one of the main traits of the Alcoy painter, one that, from my point of view, cannot be separated from tenderness. Irony, so beloved and characteristic of Valencians. Joan Fuster, in an essay on sense of humour, tells us about its names: irony, satire, sarcasm, causticness, and stresses: “maybe the jest contained in irony is not as violent as the one in sarcasm”. Manuel Vicent mentions that “if irony is a subtle jest meant to convey the contrary of what is said, maybe this is the figure that summarizes Antoni Miró’s plastic language.” This is precisely the reason why in this author’s irony we can find implicit an expression of tenderness when he explores the human body with his nudes and sexual scenes. Isabel Clara Simó has described Antoni Miró as a painter of “cheerful carnality” and as a “painter of sex” because of his quality of “Valencian painter”. Joan Fuster said that Valencians see sex as an “inescapable episode of human nature” and adds: “sex, disinfected of ancestral worries, is an obvious thing. And, like all obvious things, is trivial”.

Antoni Miró’s cheerful carnality is also a denunciation of human stupidity. Joan Fuster recommended a remedy to cure human stupidity a remedy based on homeopathy that bases its doctrine on this saying: “similia similibus curantur” that can be translated as “what is similar cures what is similar”. So, a small dose of eroticism skilfully managed could be the best medicine to cure this hypocritical aversion to that same eroticism. This uninhibition of similar with what is similar is the tenderness that we can find in Antoni Miró’s cheerful carnality. We can see an example of this erotic uninhibition in his “Alta societat tarongera” (Orange grower high society) serigraph, in which we find a lady with an orange for a head and voluptuous breasts that show themselves between clothes that cover the rest of the body tightly. Antoni Miró could also say, as the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, that “all my immediate sensual pleasures meet at the orange tree: –I look, I touch, hair, I bite, I swallow– but also the oldest sensations: my mother, the nursemaids, the breasts, the sphere, the world”.

Antoni Miró’s show at Mallorca must be used to show the trajectory of one of the most significant artists of contemporary Valencian plastic art. And it must help to set his name in the frame of the present recognition of figurativism that is also reaching our culture. Miró does not deny reality, by wants to show up its failings. Always a master of illustration, cutting out the silhouettes of objects and putting them together as in dioramas or “collages”, Antoni Miró suggests a critical reading of reality through his unique and often scathing realism.


More texts from Joan María Pujals regarding Antoni Miró