The Morning Rooster II, 1972
Painting, 1943
Painting, 1933
Woman in front of the Moon, 1976
The Wind Clock, 1967
Poem (III), 1968
Woman and Bird, 1967
Figure, 1967
The Bird Nests in Bloom Fingers, 1969
Dancer, 1981
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The poetic qualities of humble objects are transformed into works of art

Joan Miró

Joan Miró’s body of work “…helps us to see the world in different ways and allows us to negotiate the complexity of the world in which we live,” explained Dr Marko Daniel, director of the Joan Miró Foundation, during the opening of The Poetry of Everyday Life exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. “What we celebrate here is a particular look at Miró through the dual lenses of poetry and humble, ordinary objects, and the many different ways in which Miró took those two perspectives and created new art objects and new art, always with an eye on helping the visitor to unleash their own creativity.”

Joan Miró Foundation

The ninety-four artworks on display are on loan from the Joan Miró Foundation, a museum based in Barcelona founded by Miró, now encompassing 18,000 objects. The Foundation’s mission is to research, promote and help the enjoyment and understanding of the work of Miró. Dr Daniel says, “We are focusing on connecting fine art with the everyday life of our visitors so that they would feel inspired, they would enjoy art more, and they would ignite their curiosity in art, even though they might not come from an art background.”

Miró’s love for humble, everyday objects and their intrinsic poetic qualities is apparent in his work. Those objects provide him with a tangible connection to the lives of ordinary people and a medium to share his poetry. The concept of poetry was fundamental to him, as poetry represented the most concise way in which he could express complex and multiple meanings simultaneously, with no difference between painting and poetry. They are parts of the same story.

Salvador Dalí, Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx

Miró lived ninety years, passing away in 1983. He resided in and was fiercely loyal to Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain. He witnessed the horrors of World War I and like fellow Spanish artist Salvador Dalí, was influenced by the writings of psychologist Sigmund Freud and philosopher Karl Marx, which drew him to the literary, intellectual, and artistic movement called Surrealism, an art form committed to the belief in the importance of dreams, free from the constraints of reason.

Catalonia Countryside

Dr Daniel elaborates on how Miró developed as an artist. Miró started out painting very detailed, naturalistic scenes, perhaps one of the most famous early paintings being The Farm, in which he depicts – in minute detail – the architecture of a rural building in the Catalan countryside. Details include the fields before it, the stables and animals ranging from a snail to a horse.

Miró’s visual iconography

He began to simplify, condense, and distil his visual language from that origin. Over his long life as an artist, he created his own image-writing (iconography) for women, birds, and celestial bodies. His iconographic images are found and replicated in many of his works. For example, a red circle often represents the sun and a blue circle the moon. There are many paintings in which any shape, just by adding three or four lines, becomes a head. Three or four lines represent hair, and hair represents a head.

With this iconography, Miró balanced ordinary earthly things with dreams, where the earth elements represent reality, and sky elements represent dreams. Birds connect reality and dreams because they both touch the ground and fly. These elements mean things, never just one thing. They have multiple meanings and multiple levels of meaning.

The Poetry of Everyday Life

The artworks chosen relate to the exhibition’s concept, as expressed in the title, The Poetry of Everyday Life. They are works that deal with ordinary found objects, objects you would find in a typical house, kitchen or on a farm. Miró’s process of taking objects, painting them, assembling them to make sculptures, casting those assemblages into bronze, or painting those bronzed sculptures ennobled ordinary objects and transformed them into high art. This transformative process metamorphoses Miró’s high art into something that can be appreciated by anyone.        

Text & photos by Martin Wray