Skip to main content

Branches and roots

Valentina Pokladova

I would draw an analogy with good jazz music or good classical music or when listening to it a second time or when a melodic line, not notice at first, appears. 
Umberto Eco 
“Art and Entertainment”

Alcoi. Mas Sopalmo. This house of Antoni Miró, the studio, a place kept by God and loved by gods, appears in many pictures in his catalogues and albums. The place seems to be a fairytale; the surrounding scenery is imbued with a feeling of eternity and life’s mystery constantly happening in nature. Every stone seems to be speaking to you, and hum an achievement seems to be concluded even in the dust blown about or in the passing herd of sheep, reminding us of Biblical times.

This is Catalonia, “heiress of disappeared Atlantida,” as poets say, historical region of Spain on the east of the peninsula between the Pyrenees and the Segura River. The present name appeared only in the 12th century, but the history of Iberians - forefathers of the Catalans- has its roots in antiquity, several thousand of years before Christ. Legends were spread about their liking for hard work, the persistence of the Catalan: they say that “the Catalans could turn even stone into bread,” and in the case of something that is extraordinarily difficult, they say that “even a Catalan can’t do it”.

I think that Antoni Miró inherited many wonderful characteristics of the national identity.

Conquerors invaded Catalan territory repeatedly - the Romans, or Germanic tribes- and to be rescued from the barbarians, Catalonia turned to France, for which reason there’s the saying that the Catalans face France with their back to other peoples.

History does not remember evil, the lifetime of political passions is not long, time makes the bright colours of events grow pale and drowns the hottest discussions. But through the mists of centuries we clearly see the great intellectual ferment and foundation of artistic life. How very many names Spain gave to the fine arts: Picasso and Gris, Joan Miró and Dalí, El Greco and Goya, pearls of Bosch and Peter Brueghel in the Prado Museum. Catalonia turned out to be a rather strange European artistic centre, provincial, in fact, but it absorbed religiosity and anarchism, republicanism and monarchism.

Buildings by A. Gaudí, an architect from Barcelona, full of biologic forms and grotesque ornament, “temples like unusual flowers”, astounded European intellectuals, no less than Catalans. El Manifest Groc –The Yellow Manifest– (1928), signed by Salvador Dali, Lluis Montanyà and Sebastià Gasch, as a matter of fact, is a prototype of Italian futuristic texts where engineering, cars, or planes are honoured, and sentimentalism, fear of impertinence, pompous triviality are rejected. The Catalan artists were well-informed about the state affairs in the European avant-garde and oriented themselves to “the newest”.

The fine arts were influenced by the literary avant-garde as well. The fruit of real Spanish fantasy, Creationism, asserted that art is not a reflection, not a cognition, but a creation, and is equal to invention, which makes it closer to playing a game. “Greuguerias” by Ramón Gómez de la Serna, a Spanish writer, caught the moment with flying metaphors.

“Poetry? This is a combination of words that wouldn’t occur to anyone’s mind to combine, and mystery caused it,” wrote Garcia Lorca.

At any time the main problem for artist is the search for his own new word. Antoni Miró had enough directions from which to choose this word -h e is real man of culture who refused everything that had been done and started from the very beginning. The old beauty owns his soul. The perspicacious look of the m aster noted how the Greek imagination became struck by the power of women’s charm, having mercy for neither people nor heroes, nor gods. It imagined magical power in mutual attraction of lovers. The gesture of an extended hand is so expressive that it is included in catalogues of movements connected with the Greek world. “Erotic Suite” by Antoni Miró is a tribute to a character of archaic beauty marked by a complicated striving of the modern mind and the conviction that all versions have equal rights, and new variations replace canonical ones, bringing splendour and variety into Weltbuilt. The magical movement changes into architecture in the artist’s paintings, where we can find the so-called “oxymoron -non - combinable combinations, whim, caprice, play on space, situations, images, associations, words.

The artist skilfully plays on the keyboard of various styles. There is a certain Baroque fury and the search for a standard in the style of Pop Art. apart from brilliantly-used methods of Greek vase drawing, the experiments in the laboratory of plastic metaphors with Gaudi’s, Mengs’, Picasso’s, De Chirico’s, and Velazquez’s motives, entering into free dialogue and creating fantasy - reminiscences - add something, vary the whole, even “the Surrender of Breda” Velazquez, or separate fragments of “Las Meninas”. “Country Dance” by A. Teniers is happening in the background of a fragment of work by V. Kandinsky. “Metaphysics” by De Chirico joins “The Garden of Pleasures” by Bosch. The look of Aristide Bruant, a character painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, is chained to Gala, Dali’s wife. The world of improvisation is inexhaustible, here “time is a child that playing moves the pawns,” and we happen to be in the many-dimensional space of intellect, never-ending culture labyrinths without, man, and even the creation process itself are all analysed. This is an art of irony, retelling squared, art as a mirror of art.

The paintings become a new semiotics, which is why a sign, an emblem, an ideogram or any other conventional symbol is so often perceived as fetish, as opening of intrigue. An eye suddenly becomes autonomous and usurps a function of the whole face - in the role of heterotopic eye, it reminds one of clairvoyance. The scissors - an attribute of mystical spinners - a symbol of birth and death, creation and destruction appearing in the most unexpected places, also remind us of the complex of medical motives in the play “Public” by F. Garcia Lorca. Art is a hospital, the artist a surgeon, the paintbrush a world, a wounding scalpel, a result of the bold play of imagination - wonderful “accidental meeting of an umbrella and sewing machine on an anatomical table” (Caount Lotreamont “Maldonor’s Song”).

Art turned out to be that the new is the well-forgotten old. Now it is thought of as a text variant which can easily be put into circulation in the context of new conceptual manipulations. The recognition of a well-know thing does not mean the complete emergence of an idea, but to investigate it thoroughly one should know the starting points of included images.

The wheel is an archetype in a way, a most-used Antoni Miró image. The wheel is a limit to polysemy, it strung the whole “culture-archeology”, traces of sacred subjects: Buddha’s wheel, celestial chariots’ wheels, the wheel related to sunsigns, Nietsche’s wheel rolling by itself - Superman, the wheel of avant-garde legend - the bicycle wheel of Duchamp, having started the circuit of the ready-made genre, returns by a wheel from far outside the picture boundary to discover the surface of revival from Lethe paintings.

Everything is involved in circulation, playing is strung into the bicycle wheel rim, though its shafts of light the winds of East and West blow simultaneously. The chariots rush upon a search for newness tirelessly hunting for a change of place, the conquest of life space.

The 20th century speaks of itself with a discordant deafening chorus of voices - everything is sharpened, agitated, contradictory. But there is a house in Alcoi where the artist with wonderful talent lives: not going outside the contextual boundary of our experience he envelop


More texts from Valentina Pokladova regarding Antoni Miró

Other texts regarding Antoni Miró

Go to texts