Monday, 9 May 2011

Miro in Mallorca

That’s it northerners, it’s not even May and our summer has already been and gone.

What now? Perhaps you’ll consider nipping down to London town for a zingy dose of Spanish sunshine, Miro-style at the Tate Modern... but then, looking at the pricey confusion of ticket prices for a train ride down south, you might like to think again.

How about jumping on a Ryan Air flight to Mallorca? I know it’s grim while on the plane, but it’s about the same price and time as a ride on a Virgin Pendolino from Liverpool to London. Set aside all the boozy beach front bars and sun-cancerous stretched of crowded sand - for a day at least (I know, they are so much fun!) - and hop on a 2€ bus from Palma to the Pilar and Joan Miro Foundation.

You won’t be disappointed! As well as an enviable collection of paintings by Miro in a standardly nice contemporary gallery space, this place offers you the chance to glimpse the work and workings of a true master of modern art beyond a stark gallery setting.

This is the place that Miro spent his artistic maturity, and his workshop is lovingly (although I cannot attest to any authenticity) preserved. Designed by the architect Josep Luís Sert, it’s wonderful to see a collection of paintings by Miro set among homely detritus of what was once a working artists studio. The paintings may not be considered by the art world to be “significant”, but I challenge anyone to say they are not intrinsically beautiful and essentially Miro.

This room might be as carefully curated as any formal gallery setting, and I’ll still assert that an artists biography isn’t never that useful for looking at art, but to see paint brushes, folders, stools and smocks stacked side by side with extraordinary canvasses, displayed so perfectly faux-casually, is a sheer pleasure.

Up the hill, past stunning views of the Mediterranean sea and shores of Mallorca, is another house. Purchased especially for Miro to work in, it’s walls are covered with the artist's scrawled doodlings and sketches. Together with pinned-up postcards and newspaper clippings, as well as tins, pots, jars and pans on shelves, these are delicious fragments of Miro's life and, if you are so inclined to think so, his thought-processes. Whatever the story or argument about the artist being made here, it’s fascinating.

So, if the South Bank is within easy reach for you, I’ll envy your trip to see what is undoubtedly an impressive and worthy retrospective, but this Spring I’ll hold tight to my trip in the Spanish spring sunshine to see where a master of modern art spent his later years working.