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Characters of Antoni Miró

Wences Rambla

The plastic arts represent objects of the world, but properly speaking they present to our eyes lines, colours, textures, pixels -appreciated with our eyes or palpated with our hands-, and these are the elements that "conform" those objects - motives, things...-, so that we can obtain their representation, so they are, more or less,   visually present in a painting, in a lithography, in a photograph or in a sculpture.

However, as John Hospers points out in Aesthetic Fundamentals, there is a certain difference between painting an object and portraying it. And I say portray it because when we talk about Antoni Miró's "characters collection", we are talking about portraits. But, what is it or how does a "portrait" work? What intentionality does the artist have when he starts painting a portrait?

We take any of the characters that Miró represents in this magnificent collection that we are now looking at. For example, Commander Marcos. What do we see in his image captured on a support, which has been created by our artist? Which is the intention of having an individual with his face covered by a panty or balaclava and wearing a military cap, specifically a type of military camouflage? This work represents, therefore, a hided subject, covered, the face of which we can only see the eyes. Eyes like any other eyes. So this image does not indicate, just like that, that it is Commander Marcos, so that he can also represent another guerrilla from another country, from another ideological sign. So, therefore (following here the argumentative line of Hospers), we cannot deduce from simple contemplation what has been represented in the painting, that is, to which this painted image refers, but from the same (the image), along with a certain knowledge of the "world" in which it is usual, or used to be, to be this kind of individuals. We all know how the guerrillas in the 20th century are disguised. However, that image of that guerrilla corresponds to the commander Marcos, as being unfailingly identified with him do not depend on his representation, but rather than on what the artist tells us: let us know. Generally, what has been portrayed can only be inferred from the title that accompanies it. If the title changed, the subject portrayed would no longer be the same (it would be another guerrilla fighter), but different; however, the painting itself would remain the same.

Moving on to another case, if  I look at the face of the typified character (indicated) as Puig Antich (born as I, by the way, in 1948), although I do not notice the title that accompanies it, I know it is his portrait and not just an image-painting that represents it. Oh, and why? Well, because the year of his trial, pro-Franco plagued by irregularities, I was worried, like so many young students then, by what was happening in our country. And I was aware of what was politically happening in the midst of the last anguish of the Franco regime. And I knew who Salvador Puig Antich was. That is, before I saw the character represented in Antoni Miró's collection, I knew that this image could only be from Puig Antich, I knew it without any label or any indication. But surely, a person who is twenty years old, before this work of Miró, does not know it, and it is because he indicates it and makes him see that he becomes aware of that young antifascist fighter of fatal end.

On the other hand, before the character Karl Marx, who, of course, is not from my generation, nor from Miró's or anybody who visits this exhibition, and who for a long time disappeared physically from the face of the earth, not for that reason it ceases to be "alive" and its effigy is known to all. And the same happens with that of Che Guevara, idolized in our youth and motif of decoration in many objects by work and grace of pop culture and consumer capitalism. So these last two images have transcended their mere portrayal and condition of portraits to become icons, iconic referent-characters that point or allude to something more universal, to an ideology, to a transcendental or significant moment of history and all what we want to add.

Thus, in the Miró gallery of his characters we can see that there is an internal dynamic according to its spatio-temporal, historically speaking, and artistic positioning because there is an interesting and flexible game between "representation" and "presentation", between "prior knowledge or collateral" of the character and "a posteriori knowledge”, or rather, in simultaneity to its visual material representation by the artist's plastic work. And finding us in this position is not futile or inconsequential "how" appears (is placed) the character: it seems that all are faces in the same position and framed in their corresponding frames; but no. Yes, certainly, they all occupy the same, more or less, assigned space, but the look of the character, his likeness, the profile position, in foreshortening ... in which they appear, the visual-lines that spring from them -nothing ahead , nothing upwards, sideways...-, not to mention oral gestures -semi-open, smiling, semi-smiling, with tight lips, half-open...- manifest or imply a kind of life inside that kind of "fish tank" which is approximately the rectangular space in which, as pictures, Miró locates them for their contemplation.

Well. When talking about Characters and that these are "represented" in portraits, although not sensu stricto, since they did not pose expressly for our artist, but he gives expression to them according to the typical frame of portrayed faces or, in cinematographic terms, Close-ups, we find the term "character". Term that, rightly, Santiago Pastor in his text offers us three semantic meanings, and that is precisely the one that denotes admiration, which Miró really manages in his plastic vocabulary. And so, we are faced with a set of portrayed characters, a choral ensemble, which are objects of admiration. And in my case, forgive my immodesty, too. The majority of them awake my particular admiration, so that all of them, I must underline (as I have no doubt), with their lives, their jobs or occupations, their worries -each one from his respective field- manifest a commitment with social and ethical values ​​that, without a doubt, I think, also share to a great extent all those who follow the artistic and human trajectory of Antoni Miró.

On the other hand, it is necessary to point out that there are not ten, twelve or twenty characters that summarize their collection, but that they really constitute a numerous group that allows us to affirm that it is consubstantial with them to be contemplated in communion with each other. That is to say, as if we could not avoid that this communicative or choral strategy in which Miró brings them all - masculine, feminine characters, from different epochs, different roles: artistic, literary, political ... - they begin among themselves, and under the look of who can contemplate them, a dialogue, or a cross set of dialogues. It would be fascinating if we could start a conversation with people from our same "branch", that is, by profession, dedication, mentality, ideological position ... but from another time, from another place, from other continents. And so, a professor like me to be able to converse with Sanchis Guarner, with Freud ...; a current economist to do it with Marx; a young singer of our days to be able to exchange impressions with the late Víctor Jara; a young poet of today with Miguel Hernández or a politician of our century –by the way, many of them walk quite confused- to know the thoughts, objectives, truncated longings of a Salvador Allende?
In short, Antoni Miró's Characters constitute a chronicle of reality; its authentic critical chronicle, to be more exact. They open up a series of interpretative possibilities for our analysis of reality - also current, of course -, submerging us in a sea of ​​meanings to which the Alcoyan is always disposed from his open position to what is really existing and valuable (as "open" is the gallery itself to be nourished by new characters) with those social, cultural, artistic, etc. aspects, to which his ethical commitment and his fight for values incardinated in all those areas, allow us to once again confirm how Antoni Miró, whatever the subject, the context, the plot of life he deals with, never does it for free, but intentionally,  tending to involve all those who come to taste his works, and sharing their content. But not because we admit them without more, no; but because we ourselves confront our own positions with what he proposes to us. We could affirm, then, that just as Characters are in a situation of being willing to weave a network of dialogical relations, so also through these faces, we ourselves -the spectators of these images- do it with Miró himself. Whatever the works and series proposed, once more his work is to stimulate our reflection. His proposal is not a free aesthetic and aesthetician one, but an art for thought.