A refuge in Son Abrines

He occupied many workplaces throughout his artistic career, sometimes compelled by the circumstances of his environment, until finding his final refuge on the island of Mallorca.

In 1956 Miró settled in Son Abrines and finally unveiled the studio he had longed for throughout his life, designed by his friend Josep Lluís Sert. Artist and architect find inspiration in the respect of the landscape, techniques and local materials, so this building means for both a return to the simple and timeless lines of Mediterranean constructions and traditions.

In the Sert studio there has been a definitive mutual understanding between the architectural elements and the particular cosmology born from the imagination of the painter. The studio is reminiscent of one of those magical chapels that outline the Mediterranean horizon, with the wings of the skylights of the roof unfolding towards the sky. The textured walls are strongly anchored to the ground, halfway between two distant worlds, like Miró’s own work.

However, the space in which the force of his work is unleashed is not bounded by walls or a single geographical enclave. What remains constant in all of them and he carries with him in his moves, it’s the world of found objects. With those objetcs he is creating a patina that covers the architecture, in order to protect him from external reality and create his own.

Objects, clippings and images of the past allow him to bring together the different workshops in space and time. The first contact with each of them yields to the impulse of covering the physical container with fragments of his own universe, linked to forms of the past and above all, the Mediterranean.

On the beach of the Pixerota in Mont-roig, as later in Varengeville and Mallorca, Miró collects shells, stones, pieces of glass, bones, broken branches, roots, starfish. Everything that has been thrown away, forgotten, is a treasure in his eyes and becomes part of his unusual gallery. These Mironian objects and places allow the artist to achieve the right “state of mind” to face the work.

Miro’s roots

It will be in Mont-roig in 1911, during a period of convalescence in his youth, where Miró decides to devote himself to painting. It is the place of reference to which he always returns, to work on the landscape, to tighten the ties with the earth and to regain contact with the roots and elements that are in the origin of his work. Surrounded by almond, olive and carob trees, with the backdrop of the mountains and the Mediterranean, the artist feels from childhood “the call of the land” and the force of the landscape.

“We must paint by stepping on the earth, so it may enter the force by the feet. When I’m cold I put myself on the mat; it is like the earth, it also comes out of the earth itself … In a studio with a linoleum floor one cannot paint, one must paint by stepping on the earth.”

This same communion with the environment is achieved in Mallorca, where there will be a second birth in Miró’s artistic career; a time of loneliness and retreat on the island, a place that will exert on him a strong magnetism associated with the sky, the light and the Mediterranean Sea. This place is identified with a culture that still keeps links alive with the primitive world and the popular traditions, an attitude similar to that of Joan Miró’s himself, finding inspiration in ancient civilisations and the familiarity of the everyday.

“Everything that comes out of the earth goes. Everything that is direct and shows no transformation. That’s what makes me have respect for craftsmanship.”

Even from childhood, Miró felt strongly attracted by a land and traditions where he could recognise the same honesty and simplicity that soaked the atmosphere of Mont-roig. He always maintained an osmosis relationship with this island, where from music and silence, contemplation and reading, he will find the balance that will allow him to reorient his artistic production and continue his path back to basics.

The Mironian triangle

The island and the Mediterranean will finally offer him a haven where he can condense his worries and then release them with more momentum than ever. The studio designed by Sert will be the cave, the return to the womb, the place where to unfold the full force of his work. From the personal lookout of the studio he can finally contemplate the stars or follow the horizon line, completing the magic chain between earth, sky and Mediterranean Sea.

Mallorca reflects the light and intangible poetry of Mont-roig, collected in the work of an artist who does not see a barrier in the sea that seems to separate the two coasts but, on the contrary, unifies the remote cultures that define them. All the energy of nature and the found objects that it offers, which attract Miró so much, comes to concentrate on a single element, apparently insignificant but universal for the artist: the carob tree. Miro himself explains that in his travels to Paris he always carried in his pocket a carob from Mont-roig. The same carob trees that he planted in Son Abrines, the grounds of the studios in Mallorca and the future Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró . With this simple gesture, the various points of the triangle of the Mironian cosmology become one, seeing as it is also the Mediterranean Sea that unites them.

“And here I will plant carobs. In Montroig, my father had carob trees. When they are full of leaves they have a strange force, of shock. When they drop the leaves, they are like living animals that arise from the earth.”

Corteza de algarrobo

“The light of Majorca is imbued with pure poetry; it reminds me of the light of those oriental things that are presented as viewed through a veil, the light of those things that are meticulously drawn… It is not coincidental, not gratuitous, that I have come to live and work here … It is the call of the land: Tarragona-Majorca. Or the other way around, is the same: Majorca-Tarragona. Montroig-Palma. I felt it since I was two or three years old and I was sent to spend Christmas with my grandparents Josefa and Joan Ferrá. The Mediterranean. I could not live in a country from which the sea was not seen. I mean the Mediterranean Sea.” [1]

 

[1] Words of Joan Miró in Camilo José Cela. “The Call of the Land.” (Minutes of a Monologue of J.M.), Papers of Son Armadans, year II, volume VII, nº 21, Madrid-Palma de Mallorca (December 1957).