The entrance to the Buenos Aires Fine Arts Museum (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) exhibition, ‘La Experiencia De Mirar’, is marked by the black scrawl of Joan Miró’s signature, an invitation to visitors to leave the pastel brushstrokes of the impressionist gallery behind, and enter into Joan Miró’s world of blots, splats, flicks and smudges. From the signature-adorned wall, guests are guided down a cuboid tunnel lit in Yves Klein blue, with huge square windows letting boxes of azure light into the corridor. The immediacy of the change in light from white to vivid blue, baptizes visitors into Miró’s color scape, highlighting the centrality of pigments and shapes in this collection of 18 paintings, 6 drawings, 26 sculptures and two films, from the last 20 years of Miró’s life.
This collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings on loan from Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofia, were all completed in Miró’s new studio (where he moved in 1956) in Son Abris, Mallorca which was designed by his friend Josep Lluís Sert. Using the workshop, Miró was able, for the first time, to bring all of his work into one space, allowing him to revise and redefine his pieces; as this collection showcases, his work became more abstract, more complex. As Carmen Fernández Aparicio and Belén Galán Martín, the exhibition’s curators said, this period of reworking enabled Miró to achieve ‘the maximum simplification of his universe’. His inspirations were many and multifarious, ranging from ‘a stain, a drop, a footprint, an object found or an element of nature, recreating, through this impulse, a frequent theme in his work: the representation of nature and the human figure’ (Carmen Fernández Aparicio and Belén Galán Martín).
‘’I felt the need to get the maximum intensity with the minimum means. this is what drives me to give my painting an increasingly stripped back character” joan Miró
Moving into the gallery itself, one can sense that the space has been engineered to echo Miró’s lines and shapes. The way the gallery moves guests through the cuboid tunnel of light, into the huge curved wall, painted white and blue, and around a low, semi-circle of a wall, dotted with sculptures, transposes the lines of Miró’s paintings into an architectural experience. The inspiration for the sickle-moon curve which occupies the middle of the gallery, for instance, can be seen in the lapis-lazuli curl of paint in ‘Mujeres, Pajaro en la Noche’ (1974), while the great wall which curves from floor to ceiling across the gallery could’ve been inspired any one of his bold, inky strokes.
Indeed the walls of the gallery appear almost to have rearranged themselves, curving and swerving as they do through the sculptures and mounted paintings, seemingly autonomous. The design recalls the poetry of Pierre Reverdy, one of Miró’s contemporaries and influences working in Paris in the 1920s, alongside the avant-garde group of Surrealists, Dadaists, and Cubists, such as Pablo Picasso, Max Jacobs, Juin Gris and Joan Miró. Reverdy writes in his poem ‘Clocks’: ‘the white walls have curved’, a line which is given physical form by the exhibition room.
‘a stain, a drop, a footprint, an object found or an element of nature, creating, by means of this impulse, a frequent theme in his work: the representation of nature and the human figure’
La Experiencia de Mirar invites visitors to glimpse how Miró saw objects and people, a way of seeing that is, arguably, clearest in ‘Paysage’, one of the most famous pieces of the collection. Five marks – a cross, a blot, a smudge, a brushmark and a charcoal line – dissipate across a grey-white canvas, forming a constellation of stars. The genius of the image lies in Miró’s use of abstract marks to clearly communicate a set of emotions and landscapes, and it is precisely through this genius use of color and space that Miró (enabled by excellent curators and directors) makes abstract art accessible to a new audience.
La Experiencia de Mirar | Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires | 25th October 2017- 25th February 2018 | Monday- Friday, 11am-8pm | Saturday-Sunday, 10am-8pm | Entrance is Free for All.