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Referential myriad

Santiago Pastor Vila

Around the series CHARACTERS of Antoni Miró

The denomination of the series points definitely to a certain intention, in spite of the misunderstandings that the use of this term could suggest. As we know, there are three semantic meanings on which the word characters is usually about : one denotes admiration, the second is the one who fits, for example, the performance  of a noteworthy role in a theatrical representation, above an extra that merely fills the scene: and, finally, we find another that refers to making obvious derogatory connotations of a specific person.

Of all these, it is clear that the latter is completely out of consideration, since you cannot find here any contempt for those alluded to by the artist. On the contrary, all of them form together a kind of particular pantheon to the painter. That is why, as the titles of the works show, it is undoubted that we are dealing with real tributes dedicated to portraits, which are the result of the clear admiration that Antoni Miró feels for them.

However, apart from being in the line of the first meaning of this word, it is also true that this condition can be enriched, in addition, with the other metaphor mentioned in the intense performance, with a notorious role, within the greater of the functions: the oneof the great theatre of the present world.

It is only there (that is, here and now) where the purest conjunction of disaster and hope occurs. It is where even multiple injustices like those reflected in Calderón's auto-sacramental name are rekindled, as when the poor man says that "in short, this sad world that dresses dressed people and robes naked one". But it is also only there (here and now, therefore) that we can see better futures and discover the value of the most praiseworthy achievements in the past.

Well, the artist grants these characters from the cultural (of the two cultures, really, including science) and political fields a special condition of main actors in this representation, for their commitment to society and for the value of their achievements within different areas of creation. Men and women that exist, or rather existed in most cases, with a special significance, in short, in accordance with the values ​​and the ideological system of the artist, while at the same time reinforcing the construction of a shared identity.

This metaphorical component of the characters who act developing singularly special actions, who do what they do intensely, is the factor that prevails and makes, in his judgment, recognition necessary. As what they have done or proposed seduces the artist, he pays them a moral tribute with his painting, which seeks to immortalize their memory.

At the same time, it is inevitable to refer to the Greek muses, since the chosen characters also have an inspiring potential for Miró. Not in vain, these daughters of Mnemosyne were the goddess who personified the memory, those who protected certain arts. And aren’t we before Estelles who, as a contemporary Erato would do, puts in lyrical perspective the joy of the lovers? Or do not have Ovidi Montllor links with Talia? Or would not Gades dance with Terpsichore? Or can’t you fix on Einstein as if he were a successor to Urania, who has brought us closer to the distant horizons?

As was done in the representation of the muses, these characters are often represented accompanied by identifying attributes. Some of more objective nature, others purely conceptual. In this way, Pau Casals is accompanied by his cello (and also by a pipe which smoke takes off gracefully). In the case of Eusebio Sempere, however, we see the superposition of the plot of his self-portrait made with a computer in the CCUM in the late sixties and his portrait, as he was then.

But, canonically, the muses are only nine. And here we are before a multitude of characters. It is understandable that this is so, since the meaning has been inverted. We are not now before an abstract ideal, but the reference is based on the singular concretion of each of the characters. That is why the extraordinary multiple condition of the series, as the group of admired people is so numerous, makes it a referential myriad.

As arranged together, the characters acquire a collective dimension that presents unexpected virtues if analyzed separately. This choral version constitutes a possibility to establish imaginable dialogues between some of them. Antoni Gades could now dance symbolically with Sol Picó, although they did not know each other. Antoni Gaudí could discover with Llull the combinations that lead from the cathedral of Mallorca to the heaven they longed for. Raimon could sing "Al Vent", and then listen to Dylan as he sounds "Blowing in the Wind" (both wind and libertarian themes were released in 1963). Montserrat Roig could interview Paco Aura about his suffering in a Nazi concentration camp ...

There are two additional types of dialogues that can be found. In some way it is possible to read the crossed thoughts between Ovidi and Tereseta, the only characters to whom the benefit of sharing a canvas is granted. You can also see the inner call that some make to themselves when the portrait is inverted (horizontally, not as it should have been done with Felipe V's) and the looks of one are duplicated and converge in a point. Where will Valls look, on one side and the other, on the right and vice versa?
Likewise, another multiplicity is discovered when different versions of the same portrait of a character meet. If we relate the three paintings dedicated to Miguel Hernández in this exhibition, we can understand it. The accentuation of the melancholy of the look varies if the framing of the image is biased with respect to that of the famous photograph that serves as the basis. It is also different when we see how the longing for the Second Republic brings the colours of the background.

In fact, questions of colour and visual texture are very relevant in this series. Most of them are made with monochrome base (black on white, usually). Some are affected by turns, for example blue. Others have colour. But the vast majority of them present a consistent veiling in a vertical scratch that gives them the patina of time and that causes a visual noise, resembling the graphic language of journalism.

The realistic figuration is superposed to the digital treatment of the base images and to different types of compositional manipulations. Within this new Chronicle of Reality, the explicit clamour of denunciation and the ironic approach, typical of other periods of the artist's career, are replaced by a strategy of identification, of selection and of personal appreciation. Hunger, death and injustices are now absent. Without doubt, the proposal is more hopeful, but we must not forget that some of the characters are indissolubly linked to the protest and, portraying them, this manifests itself again.

In short, Miró, putting before us these characters with whom he has established a certain value connection, wants to inform us of some keys of his concrete positioning towards the social, cultural and political reality that surrounds us. They are all, simultaneously, sources of inspiration and memory deposits, which show the overcoming of the excluding binomial key between rupture and continuity with respect to the explanation of the process of historical conformation. And so, he does it adding close and distant referents, both in space and time, indicating that the personality is shaped according to external influences of very different origin, which, however, share traits that are not otherwise more than strong ties that serve to explain it.