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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Joan Miró

(1893 - 1983), Spain

Joan Miró i Ferrà—better known as Joan Miró—was a Catalan painter, sculptor and ceramicist who used simple shapes and symbols to form a complex and novel visual grammar. Miró's inventive style was extremely influential in the development of avantgarde art throughout his lifetime, and he remains one of the best-known artists of the 20th century.

Miró initially attended both business school and the Escola Superior d'Arts Industrials i Belles Arts in Barcelona. However, after his studies and while working as a clerk, he contracted typhoid fever, and after a period of convalescence, decided to focus on art-making. From 1915 to 1919 he painted landscapes, portraits and nudes, largely at his family's home on Majorca. During this period, he experimented with a range of influences including fauvism and cubism, and the works of Vincent van Gogh and Cézanne. In The Waggon Tracks (1918), for example, Miró depicted a verdant desert landscape; the sense of motion in the greenery is reminiscent of movement Van Gogh's landscapes convey, while he also utilises the bright palette common to fauvism. In Portrait of Juanita Obrador (1918), on the other hand, Miró presents the budding angularity of cubism and maintains a visibility of brushstrokes akin to Cézanne. While sampling from various sources, the paintings remain something uniquely Miró's own, though with only a hint of the artist's distinct visual style to come.

During the early stages of his career, Miró was attracted to the inclinations of subterfuge found in the Dada movement. In 1923, he began to transition to a visual language more explicitly composed of signs and increasingly separated from representation or reality. He joined the Surrealists in 1924 and would later be described by lead surrealist André Breton as 'the most surrealist of us all'. Miró was also a leader among the associated artists in explorations of the subconscious, particularly with automatic drawing. Most of his paintings began as automatic drawings in an attempt to escape the conventions of representation and the painting medium itself. Describing his 1925 painting The Birth of the World, Miró said 'Rather than setting out to paint something I began painting and as I paint the picture begins to assert itself, or suggest itself under my brush... The first stage is free, unconscious.'

In each of his works, Miró is highly selective of which formal features of the landscape to accentuate, and which to discard. A prime example of Miró's poetic rendering of everyday scenes, The Hunter (Catalan Landscape) (1923–4) shows the Catalan landscape reduced into flattened planes. Minimal symbols represent the animals and vegetation; the titular hunter has been pared down to a bare few set of lines against a flat pink that represents the ground and a flat yellow that represents the sky.

In 1928, Miró visited the Netherlands and became interested in the Dutch masters. He brought home a set of postcards from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and began a series of three paintings that combined the Dutch regional style with his own unique visual vocabulary. In Dutch Interior (I), a painting by Hendrick Martensz Sorgh is transitioned from an atmospheric image of a lute player performing for a woman to an energetic gathering of symbols across a flattened picture plane. Some aspects—such as the man's collar—have been accentuated, while others—such as the woman at the table—have been diminished or replaced. In this series, Miró's direct references to other images allow the audience to follow his path of inventive abstraction.

In the late 1920s, Miró became interested in the idea of the 'assassination of painting', within which he sought to escape or even destroy the traditions of bourgeois art and instead pursue more experimental forms. A work exemplary of this period, Painting (1936) was made with a mixture of gravel, sand and oil paint. The artist assured his dealer that rather than the work being ruined if some of the materials came loose when it was sent to an exhibition, the loss would 'make the surface . . . look like an old crumbling wall, which will give great force to the formal expression.' In this period, he also experimented in collage and sculptural assemblage, as well as making costumes for ballet and over 250 artist books.

Throughout his entire career, Miró's Spanish and Catalan nationalism remained a key influence to his work. His 1921 pastoral painting The Farm lovingly depicts a rural scene. Ernest Hemingway, who purchased the piece, spoke highly of its level of accomplishment: 'It has in it all that you feel about Spain when you are there and all that you feel when you are away and cannot go there. No one else has been able to paint these two very opposing things.' At the time of the Spanish Civil War, Miró was living in Paris. Even at a distance the artist was very affected by the tragedy and tumult going on in his home country, and was inspired to employ social criticism in his art. Works of this period also became more representational, such as in T__he Reaper—a mural for the Spanish Republic's pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition of 1937 that showed a peasant revolt.

Miró was also known for his Surrealist sculptures. His earliest pieces were formed out of collections of found objects, such as Object (1936), whose media list is lengthy: 'stuffed parrot on wood perch, stuffed silk stocking with velvet garter and doll's paper shoe suspended in hollow wood frame, derby hat, hanging cork ball, celluloid fish and engraved map.' In the mid-1940s he turned towards ceramic work, for which he embraced the full materiality of clay, often making intentionally imperfect pieces. The height of Miró's ceramics success was perhaps his two murals for Paris' UNESCO building, Wall of the Moon and Wall of the Sun (1958), which were given a Guggenheim International Award. These murals are composed of brick-like tiles that together bring shape to a colourful set of symbols, including the titular moon. Indeed, throughout his life Miró produced many large-scale public sculptures throughout the world, and as well as Paris his works can be found in the public spaces of cities such as Chicago, Madrid and Barcelona (where the Fundació Joan Miró is also located).

Biography by Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Oiseaux by Joan Miró contemporary artwork
Joan MiróOiseaux, 1976 India ink, wax crayon and pastel crayon on grey cardboard
75.5 x 106 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris
Llibre dels sis sentits V, by Joan Miró contemporary artwork
Joan MiróLlibre dels sis sentits V,, 1981 From a series of six etching and aquatints on Guarro paper
90.5 x 70.5 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
Gaudí XXI by Joan Miró contemporary artwork
Joan MiróGaudí XXI, 1979 Etching and aquatint with collage on Arches paper
115 x 72 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
Gaudí XX by Joan Miró contemporary artwork
Joan MiróGaudí XX, 1979 Etching and aquatint with collage on Arches paper
95.5 x 78.5 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
Gaudí XVII by Joan Miró contemporary artwork
Joan MiróGaudí XVII, 1979 Etching on Arches paper
90 x 63 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
El pi de Formentor V by Joan Miró contemporary artwork
Joan MiróEl pi de Formentor V, 1976 From a series of six aquatints
105 x 90 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
Le Dandy by Joan Miró contemporary artwork
Joan MiróLe Dandy, 1969 Etching with aquatint and carborundum on Madeure rag paper
75 x 59 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
Tête au Soleil Couchant by Joan Miró contemporary artwork
Joan MiróTête au Soleil Couchant, 1967 Aquatint and carborundum on Mandeure rag paper
50 x 66 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Muse & Motif at Cristea Roberts Gallery, London
Closed
10 January–16 February 2019 Group Exhibition Muse & Motif Cristea Roberts Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, By Fire, Ceramic Works at Almine Rech, New York
Closed
31 October–15 December 2018 Group Exhibition By Fire, Ceramic Works Almine Rech, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Joan Miró, Femmes, oiseaux et monstres... at Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris, Paris
Closed
6 September–10 October 2018 Joan Miró Femmes, oiseaux et monstres... Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris, 13 Rue de Téhéran

Represented By

In Related Press

View All (5)
How Surrealism’s Playful Aesthetic Was Deeply Political Related Press How Surrealism’s Playful Aesthetic Was Deeply Political Hyperallergic : 16 September 2019

Susan Laxton's book Surrealism at Play passionately traces how a particular art movement envisioned and articulated its own transformative potential. As Laxton illustrates, the Surrealists agitated for exploding art into life, which meant engaging with their day-to-day reality, and taking a critical stance toward it. A professor of art history at...

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Joan Miró’s Modernism for Everybody Related Press Joan Miró’s Modernism for Everybody The New Yorker : 11 March 2019

Painting, painted by Joan Miró in 1933, in Barcelona, is a composition of black, red, and white blobby shapes and linear glyphs on a ground of bleeding and blending greens and browns. It hangs in Joan Miró: Birth of the World, an enchanting show at the Museum of Modern Art that draws on the museum's immense holdings of Miró's work, along with a few...

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WHAT TO SEE DURING FRIEZE WEEK 2017 Related Press WHAT TO SEE DURING FRIEZE WEEK 2017 Whitewall : 3 May 2017

Ethics demonstrated in geometrical order will showcase new works from the artist Erwin Wurm's series One Minute Sculptures, which he's been making for 20 years. The series asks viewers to enact a pose with everyday items for just one minute—this time around he's using midcentury modern furniture. These audience-activated sculptures will also...

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Art Dubai: A peek at the redesigned fair, new experiences, top artists and edible art Related Press Art Dubai: A peek at the redesigned fair, new experiences, top artists and edible art The National : 18 March 2016

To borrow a phrase from Antonia Carver, director of Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah will be turned into “art city” this week. With the start of the 10th edition of the annual fair, collectors and gallerists will converge within the conference halls of the sprawling complex to buy and sell some of the freshest contemporary works, while...

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