Wednesday, 27 April 2011


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Only three people know this.  In the second school term of my fresher year at college, I  tried to change my degree, to History of Art.  But it was clear, by the gaze sliding down his long narrow nose at me, that this would not be possible or plausible; there was only funding for one History of Art place each year and that had been taken.  But, I felt it as sharply as it was meant, that in snobbery, unfortunately heritage counts for a whole lot.   

Onto art and Joan Miró currently at Tate Modern; in retrospective he is far more aggravated and political than his dreaminess and spots let on.  And makes me think of those chips that people knock away on small shoulders; being infinitely deeper but gives life to paint.

I knew Miró for his vast blue canvases with spots and lines.  So brief and yet so brave with colour.  Standing before it and touching the void of a sparse dreamscape.  The ability of a painting to steal the viewer belongs to Miró's Blue. At the Tate Modern, Room 11, they are celebrated in their original triptych; Bleu I, II,III/ III produced during a calm phase of his career, by which time he was already an internationally recognised artist and embracing the influence of American abstract expressionism.

Bleu II/ III

And before these are his recogniseable constellation series, that he began during his last year of exile in France and within the fold of the surrealist movement.  Beauty and lyrical whimsy (and a recollection of his early animation) despite the backdrop of Franco dictatorship in spain and the German war sweeping Europe. The 23 gouaches, which are presented together and in complete chronological order (room 7). The last few completed on his return to Spain and to "internal exile" following the German invasion of France in 1940.

 Constellation:  Awakening with Dawn

But for me the most interesting are the opening rooms exploring his Catalan heritage, early abstraction and the surrealist occupation with the subconscious, poetic and automatic.  Placing all the paintings against a timeline of Spanish civil war, dictatorship, and bloody unrest.  Dealing with his rebellion, uncertainty and frustration and identifying motifs he would later consistently repeat - the l'echelle de l'evasion (escape stairs) as a beckoning imagination and freedom from harsh realities, the barking dog up to the moon, the eyes later multiplied by anxiety and drawn on amorphous shapes unyielding of their character, birds later with teeth as oppressive flocks and a representation of the onslaught of aerial power during war, the language of the line and chromatic saturation.

Still Life with Old Shoe

Perhaps because I also paint in still life and in a small way recognise how it feels, I am most intrigued by Still Life with Old Shoe (room 5).  To take the everyday and reveal through it the context of the times, or the emotion of the artist down the hand - this may seem trivial but it is an unforced documentation belonging to those who seek it and why art has its value beyond the aesthetic.  Described as "Both everyday and wildly disconcerting".
 Portrait of V. Nubiola

Room 1 - The open shirt collar as a sign of the subject's political radicalism, the style as a sign of the painter's early exploration with fauvism (wild colours) and cubism (geometry).

A retrospective at Tate Modern, London
14 April to 11 September 2011
Link :

One of my Oil Paintings was recently featured on Etsy Finds - Thank you : ) Follow me on Twitter StillArtist

And here is my still life with bottle and bread.  Available for purchase Rum-oil-on-canvas-76-x-101-cm

© SisterBatik 2010

 For sale: last-bloom-oil-on-canvas 


  1. I'm so happy to read about Miro! (I'm not sure how to type an accent) I absolutely love his more minimalistic works like the bleu II. It's so simple, but that's what makes it so clever--in fact, the more I look at it and analyze the colors and composition, the more I realize how complicated it must be to get it just right. I wish I could see them in person.

  2. Hey there. While I too love his early works, like Rachel J I prefer his more minimal, later pieces. I visited the Miró exhibition at the Tate Modern when I went down to see my sister in London, and it blew me away. Constellations had the biggest impression on me… until I saw his triptychs, especially Hope of a Man Condemned to Death. Magnificent.

    I also like your still life. The close up shown above makes it look like waves crashing against a cliffside!