Points of departure

The idea that Miro seems to have needed a ‘jolt’, a shock or an accident to begin making his art is perhaps no great surprise. Maybe all of us who do creative work rely on or gratefully latch onto a source. For Miro it may have been an imperfection, a stain on canvas ‘primed’ by cleaning his brushes upon it in order to stimulate such an inspirational event. He does speak at some length about this process and one of many things that resonate/jar/jolt is the affirmation that

A piece of thread, therefore, can unleash a world. I invent a world from a supposedly dead thing. And when I give it a title, it becomes even more alive. Miro, XXsiecle, interview with Yvon Taillandier, 1959.

We can most of us, in our turn, fly with this attractive notion. But before we do, let’s remind ourselves that the bulk of humanity, when informed of this cosmic spontaneity, might belch out a not unreasonable protest. Like what kind of painting is that? Beginning with a fucking splodge or a hole or a stain? That’s a fraud! We’ve all heard that stuff.

So what kind of painting is it?

Miro – who, let’s make clear did not always paint the same way (and therefore dear viewer, should you require of your artist the obvious ability to draw the obvious relatively obviously, please refer to… The Farm say, of 1921-2) – Miro I suspect came to depart from these flecks of dust in a heightened state of both confidence and susceptibility. Requiring of the immediate (physical?) impulse but trusting that this sprang from unspoken understandings.

There seems to be very little talk of fate, but an exquisite, a poetic appreciation of the journey from the automatic to the liberatingly real through the process of painting. Something is being found; something more wonderful than that which could have been found by knowing the destination beforehand. I think this may be Miro’s definition of human experience; this expression of faith in the life of the imagination.

I’m besotted with his contrary genius. Farmboy/cosmonaut; diligent mercurial-instinctive doodler. Sign-maker and allotment-holder. Man of principle/man of business. Surrealist and… farmboy. What seems constant however, is the graft, the integrity of the man. He detested dilettantes and those who abused the true calling – at one stage being highly critical of Picasso for his slavery to the franc and the dollar. He worked at it, for decades; quietly, but like a fighter too, in training. Earning the right to express himself, then calling out to the universal.

Miro did ordinary stuff – family stuff, being skint stuff – but dug for the sublime. He left ciphers and signs for all of us to gather, knowing surely that we would lack the confidence to allow them to work upon us or baulk at the work involved in getting them. Always he moved forward and on, in relative independence, in his exacting, exhilarating way.

I find my titles in the process of working, as one thing leads to another on my canvas. When I have found the title, I live in its atmosphere. The title then becomes completely real for me, in the same way that a model, a reclining woman for example, can become real for another painter. For me, the title is a very precise reality.                 Miro, interview as above.

These are not the words or the ways of a fraudster.  Please, go after him; follow.

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