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Antoni Miró’s artistic commitment

Wences Rambla

1. Valencian social realism of the sixties of last century conflict arises at a tense time, dominated by imbalances in the social, cultural, political and economic matters. Situations that would require a significant number of artists to take sides to move and to encourage awareness process with his work, and then to pull the trigger to a more or less spontaneous reaction in society itself which directed their messages.

Confining ourselves to the cultural context of Alicante in a particular way to the artist that is dedicated this text, Antoni Miró, we might say we are dealing with two groups with similar problems of those of northern regions, where were settled groups like Estampa Popular de València, Equip Crònica and Equip Realitat. I'm talking about Grup Alcoiart and Grup d'Elx, whose attachment to what he called "social realism" or "chronicle of reality" was full, although its members did not reach a common artistic language integration as large artists such those from Valencia, preferring to maintain their individuality and private trajectories.

Both groups were born then, in a social and economic context that certainly conduces to the development of this kind of realism. On the one hand, we must remember that Alicante mid-sixties society was characterized by the predominance of industrial over agricultural issues. On the other hand, the dry climate and poor soil would not allow a mixed economy such as that could be deployed in other areas of the Region of Valencia. So, cities such as Elx or Alcoi oriented their production system to activities related mainly to the textile and footwear respectively.

In this sense, labour disputes, problems of social dislocation caused by immigration, rapid and uncontrolled growth of urban development, and so on where elements that were negatively impacting in the lives of people around or between which were located these arts groups, leading to stimulate among its components critical reflection.

Reflection would move to his artistic activity with the same desires for social awareness that was already in the groups of Valencia. A studious of these groups in those days was Roman de la Calle that noticed this in 1988 and wrote in Art-Sud: "Since its inception the two groups face the human presence in the social adversarial context that the development of the industry bears in the decade. Such experience was widely familiar-known from the immediate fact of life offered by the very human environment, with the respective avalanche of immigration that was brought by the particular industrial development. This particular urban phenomenon and its industrial base will be unavoidable, and is revealing that sociologically facts should relate to the genesis and direction of both arts groups."

2. Speaking of art and the vital journey of Antoni Miró it is almost the same, as has always been working towards the same with a clear and unambiguous objective through a dedicated travel a straight path without deviation or falsehoods. That is, after scrutinizing human experience and reality, launching his penetrating gaze to conduct the assay of the state of the grounds for considering the inconsistencies and injustices that human beings can do and accomplish on their own fellows. And Miró questions all that research and explains it to us thru his personal image over more than four decades of artistic career it began, and still remain the same, with firm consistency.

The way political coherence opened a frankness exhibition of some techniques means that, even with relevant developments it kept in his own way without listening to the siren´s song that remains fashionably and make them heard.

Remaining loyal to his roadmap has been able to use the appropriate “plastic and mental tool” to a successful conclusion of the demonstration of his thoughts and efforts. And so, by his forthright brilliance of its forms of painted, coloured, engraved, made high or low relief, free package, and so on. Forms clear, direct images, compositions without hesitation.

In that life and artistic discourse, which has been diversifying his images, but always – I insist - towards the same objective, where the vital, social and ethical are always intertwined in a stage. Not so long ago it seemed he still had to play: to focus more insistently on those aspects that are his goals. Points to observe and scrutinize under the light of a new situation, a new mole, and unique area where overlap in a very special way: the city.

3. Until that moment I still remember he had not explained visually, and it nevertheless had stopped noticing the huge space that is changing the city, hope so. Then something undeniable happened: have gone too directed specifically, to plastically focus in that space or places as a basis for coexistence, development and injustices, to explore its own meaning. The inherent meaning of its own since the man lifted the cities to settle in them and take shelter behind physical or mental walls. This for thousands of years. "I do not want anyone to panic, go back to antiquity, not even the start of medieval cities”.

We don´t need to go that far. We're just going to place ourselves at the present time, that one as in the contemporary city. This modern city that wakes up every day, gets up unstoppable..., as it came to the futurist Umberto Boccioni said holder his memorable 1911 painting, La città che sale. Moreover, let us place ourselves, as it looked, in a well-known cosmopolis, and let's look at the incident that occurred nine years ago on it: the City of the cities, the Babylon of modernity times: New York. Why? Well it seems that after the events of so-called 11-S, which as a surprise knock travelled around the world, is when Toni Miró is set in a special way and wonders what is happening in the city in that area and theoretical specifically human designed for the interaction of people. And so deeply about how to repair the society and its most varied forms of living (to live the “polis”) have much to do with this powerful systemic organization of health, culture, education, welfare and conflict, rejection or placement, which represents the city. Finally, the critical gaze of the artist has much to do, therefore, with the cities which map or area of coexistence, sociability, exchange of views more or less democratic, but also people who go there: migrants, refugees come from places inhospitable by war and famine, to the modern western city, hopefully the promised land. A promised land just not be entirely happy haven for all those people, since it also has its contradictions. Contradictions are solved in the most disparate and even so bloody many times.

4. The city, as a conglomeration of people and generating events from happenings, comes to be in terms of dramaturgical theatre where, from dawn until dusk, countless things happen amid more deafening clamour and bustle, if not in the middle the thick silence. Each day the city wakes up and starts the show: people rushed to go to their occupations, beggars and sellers of trinkets on street corners, imitations of singers in the underground corridors. Sculptors of his own body to mimic more quietist and inward, delight passers that are despised by others. No missing street artists, fortune-tellers and good fortune. Neither drug dealers, half hidden in an alley or under the trees in a park. There are also, by the way, rapacious birds of apparently innocence to see how it can take the bag of an absent-minded lady.

But the city is also a conglomerate of interests. Do not forget that cities have become, from the Greek city-states to the capital's seats of modern states, centers of power. What better example to remember than the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo axis, infamous, or to talk about a country can make its official capital mention: According to Paris, so and so... the London government is willing to not know what, whether it decreases tension between Moscow and Washington after ending the confrontation... to summarise, the city center of power goes of the sign axis more varied, but also scope for many interesting things.

Among them, and talking little bit more about an artist, we cannot apart him from his social function of observing and looking into those huge containers also called art museums, though some might think it is banality art or show. Otherwise, Toni Miró, a widely travelled man, has continued to offer during the relevant series of creations in this term, his particular vision of these places, centres of power but also in a different specificity. And so are paradigmatic their blocks of paintings objects, as long is the long bill of pictures of skyscrapers that Miró builds and the interesting interior patch of MACBA Barcelona. Also the outside part of the Serralves Museum in Portugal, not forgetting the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern or the hollow of the steps of Valencia IVAM. Scenes and scenarios presented to us through images concise, clean, crisp essential configuration and geometry. In other paintings an air collecting deconstruction: ways more explosive, such as the image of the Guggenheim in Bilbao or the kaleidoscopic fragmentation as represented in the New York Guggenheim.

It seems, therefore, that Miró creates a mentally-dispute in ourselves with his approaches and iconographic pieces, that is, through the construction and form (tectonics and appearance) of the structural, institutional structures or policies themselves are made part of the exhibition and all -related- to the museum. Sort of conceptual metaphor, metonymy and artistically woven with great finesse, avoiding forcing things up... which is possibly the most intelligent way to make a criticism or questioning effectively.

5. Still looking in the mirror of the history of his particular creative journey, where, again he looked braid the ethical and social commitment that has let us visible through their images, we have no choice but to dwell on those works series “L'home avui” (1973). Accomplishments assumed the historical period in which social change and cultural revolutions, more or less local, partial or universal, put for our consideration facts and circumstances relating to the human being embedded in a troubled political future. Some years before we find the paintings and canmaking on “Vietnam” (1968) which, incidentally lived in the same period with other works of abstract and geometric features "mineralista" in the title of “Relleus visuals”, to pass a thereafter, to meet the series of works that "portray" bluntly, starkly, “Amèrica Negra” (1972) and this brings “El dòlar” (1973-1980).

In the paintings of “Vietnam” by Miró he complained that conflict, a brutal clash between the expansionist ambitions of the Americans of those generation and their siblings, who were doomed to a meaningless when in reality most of them were for peace, in keeping with the peace movement that crossed throughout the West against the escalating war in those years. Years who, in the course of time, meant and preceded discrimination and subjugation of black Americans in their own country, and worship all that entailed of a consumer society represented by the American currency. This is what was being transmitted, therefore, in those series “Amèrica Negra” and “El dòlar”. Series in which Miró showed critically, the brutality of those events, on one part, and on the other the false idolatry of representing the greens new totem of global domination.

Summarising the works allow us to see how the social and political commitment of the man from Alcoy is constant: it is that has led him to explore many subjects and do so through various records. And so to lead series “Pinteu Pintura” (1980- 1991), one of the larger segment of his plastic itinerary, insisted and may well think is a brilliant metaphor of its ongoing commitment to the Valencian heritage. So well, in this manner, we could and we can continue to the present: Miró´s career planted under his continuing series looking at everything that involves cultural and political commitment, humanity and solidarity, which has been exhibited in many countries and is represented in numerous museums and institutions, as well as give rise to a host of writings, articles, catalogues and books. I will not expand further. I was invited to write, along with other critics, to the accompaniment of the extensive and excellent text by Carles Cortés, commissioner exhibitor that has meticulously prepared with love and affection of a deep friendship with Toni.

To conclude, a partial and a limited conclusion if you will, given the circumstances of my brief intervention, I think it is relevant and necessary one: in Antonio Miró form and expression, content and container, hold a seamless substrate that is difficult to find in others a relation to their unifying and multi-polyhedral sense. Certainly much has been said, I myself am doing now his painting as politics, but I think that this should not obscure the fact that his personal artistic versatility, proven through numerous technical and linguistic resources has been capable of overcome barriers between different artistic disciplines and done, for example, a visual line or designed to address level of visual illusion of two-dimensional representation is not very different in its communicative effects, the way they have said, it is a sculpture or a relief projects of the wall plate, to achieve a visual sense of the same result. Or, to take another example, the sharpness of a ceramic piece has nothing to envy to the precision with the modulates of the drawing enhance of its linearity´s object, structural or shade-represented on paper or by setting up a certain image pictorially in canvas. To summarise a printmaking, mural, sculpture, etching, etc... That status while respecting their respective media (understood as a material that already differentiated, and as a qualitative distinction in their respective final finishing and visual effects, tactile, or both), maintains the coherent basis of its organizational formality. Which, linking all these ends, we see that it does with the ease of control and who knows how to express the same persistent prosecuted content critic of the reality in its deeper and broader sense-through and along different routes. The various stages that his art-performance has passed.