Saturday, 23 April 2011

Miro at Tate Modern

The Farm, 1921-22

I wrote a long piece about the Miro exhibition only to have it disappear when Blogger closed down for routine maintenance... but never mind. I will write the gist of it again. I'm not a huge fan of surrealism in general but I did enjoy this exhibition. I do love Miro's colour schemes and the symbols he used in his work. I was surprised by how quickly his surrealist style developed, the first image I saw in the exhibition was quite literal and not abstracted much at all. In the space of a couple years Miro's painting radically altered. Miro lived through turbulent times and kept returning to themes of his Catalan identity, using imagery such as his family farm and Catalan peasants in his work. He considered his painting The Farm to be a breakthrough in his work, calling it 'a resume of my entire life in the country.'

The Head of a Catalan Peasant, 1924

The exhibition guide informed me that this piece can be seen as a displaced self-portrait, and an act of defiance against Miguel Primo de Rivera who staged a military coup in Spain and proceeded to suppress Catalan identity, even forcing limitations on the use of the Catalan language.

The Conductor, 1976, Intaglio print on paper

My favourite parts of the exhibition were (not too surprisingly) the prints. In them Miro's work becomes very pictoral, with large fields of colour and simplified forms.

The Barcelona Series, 1944

The most impressive part of the exhibition in my mind was the Barcelona Series, a collection of over 50 lithographs spanning the adjoining wall of two gallery spaces. Although only printed in 1944 they were initially created in 1939 against the backdrop of Hitler's invasion of Poland and the escalating conflict in Europe. Miro was living in France at this time. These lithographs show an array of ogres and dictators as well as the victims of conflict.

The Barcelona Series, 1944

Individually these lithographs are not particularly large but the collective effect of 50 of them shown together is overwhelming. The individual images are full of turmoil and confusion but the pieces are hung in an ordered grid shape.

Blue triptych, 1961-62

A lot of this exhibition was devoted to Miro's ceramics and sculptural pieces which I will not write about here. This triptych had an entire room to itself and was quite an experience! It was like swimming in colour. I found it very relaxing to sit there surrounded by blue. There was another triptych that was white, that I was less interested in because it seemed to fade into the walls which were also white.

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