Star rating – 7/10
I never really thought Catalan Surrealist artist Joan Miró was massively my cup of tea – usually preferring instead less abstract painters – but I decided that the new exhibition of his more significant works at Tate Modern was too good an opportunity to miss to test out this theory. It arranged in order of his life, so that you can closely follow his style and works as they developed, and were influenced by other events that shaped the world that he lived in, usually political ones.
The earliest paintings in the show are from a period when the young Miró was taken by his parents from his birthplace of Barcelona, to the beautiful village of Mont-roig near Tarragona. He fell in love with this rural idyll and produced wonderful paintings such as ‘The Farm’ from 1921-22, and ‘House with Palm Tree’ from 1918. They are clearly works created with love and passion for the place, and their colour and fine detail, together with their symbolism, makes them the standout parts of the show for me.
Miró went on to embrace surrealism, and use his art to rage against the right wing politics and dictatorships in Spain. Some of his works from the 1930’s use vivid colour and almost psychedelic images as in ‘Still Life with Old Shoe’. I know he used his art as a political protest because that is what I am told, but I can’t say I would have a clue about his intended meaning unless it was pointed out to me.
One of the main talking points is the room with the 1970’s six huge almost blank canvasses in it, with horizontal curvy lines and a splash of colour on them. I can see why others find them impressive, but for me, I couldn’t wait to go back to the beginning of the exhibition and delight again in those early works when he was obviously painting from love, and in vivid detail. So I did enjoy this exhibition, and it did serve to affirm by lack of engagement with his surrealist art, but I found an early Miró that I really loved too, and that was a very special experience.