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JOAN MIRÓ: DREAMING WHILE AWAKE

By Rosa Maria Malet, director of Fundació Joan Miró (Barcelona)

The extent to which the strict definition of Surrealism, as pure psychic automatism, and the dream, as the most authentic manifestation of this automatism, can be applied to Miró is debatable. […]
We know that Miró was on familiar terms with the work of Sigmund Freud and his studies of the dream since in the artist’s personal library, currently housed in the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, we find, among other works by Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams. Miró was aware that Freud’s interest in the dream had an aim that was completely different to Breton’s. While the first sought in dreams an explanation for understanding certain psychic problems and alterations of behaviour, the second was interested in all that was unexpected and surprising in the dream image. Miró embarks on his own path for expressing, in an unexpected and surprising way, certain specific situations that are near and dear to him and to his personal and cultural milieu.
It will not, therefore, be the dream which offers Miró a potential point of departure for his work, nor induced sleep, nor drugs, nor alcohol, but rather a permanent state of alertness which makes the unforeseen accident on the canvas trigger a painting, or the unusual situation read about in a literary text, or the secret evocation of the loved one, or a tradition that upon being repeated appears rather ordinary, when it isn’t… What Miró does always seek after is to transmit his particular version of each theme, exactly as the poet transmits his.
[…] Miró’s interest is not so much in the desire to ridicule or to provoke as in that of alluding to a theme which, deriving from reality, might be presented as the content of a dream. There are situations that can only arise in dreams. We can dream them but they’re not possible. This is how the hundred or so paintings that Miró creates between 1925 and 1927 are known, namely as “dream paintings,” according to the term coined by Jacques Dupin, poet and biographer of Miró. These pictures appear at a time when Miró abandons the fantasy figuration that reproduced, in ideographic and poetic language, the familiar universe of the artist. […] In the “dream pictures” the artist situates the highly schematic represented motif on a monochrome background. Lacking in recognizable references, this space makes an essential contribution to creating the dreamlike atmosphere that characterizes the series.
An evocation of the dream but not a depiction of it, a connection with the fantastic, a literary background—these are concepts which are closely linked to Miró’s “dream paintings,” without the latter being a literal transcription of the artist’s dreams. They are concepts, moreover, that move between reality and poetry, and not between dream and reality. On the other hand, we see how in all those instants that Miró wanted to express his dissatisfaction with the difficult moments he went through it is in reality that he encounters his form of expression. […]
This will be the preliminary step, before embarking on the series of twenty-three Constellations, in which the world, if not dreamed, then desired by Miró, is seemingly inspired by poetry and music, and perhaps the dream. […]
Ultimately, in Miro’s imagination things are more what they are than what they seem to be. In the “peinture-poésie” Photo: ceci est le couleur de mes rêves [Photo: This Is the Colour of My Dreams] […] I think that what Miró wants is to warn us that even that which is not what it seems can contain poetry. Just as that which, being close at hand, domestic and familiar, albeit seemingly unimportant, can also be an inexhaustible source of dreams. All that is needed is to keep an open mind and pair of open eyes to be able to observe the world with an alert gaze.

“I never dream… Oh, yes! I do dream, I dream when I’m walking down the street, I dream all the time, but these dreams aren’t Freudian dreams. They are waking dreams. I’m always in a state of dreaming while awake. Of course! But dreams while I’m asleep, no.”

Joan Miró in: Bruno Friedman: “L’esperit créateur dans l’art et dans la science. Interview de Joan Miró’’. In: Impact, Science et Société. Paris, October- December 1969, vol. 19, n. 4, p. 392.

 

Published in The Space of Dreams. Barcelona, 2017. Mayoral. p. 147

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