'Simple loops, arches, vectors that barely curve, but whose precision in the curve, the direction, the positioning, propels across the empty spaces and the patches of colour a human song that is both tremulous and resolute.'
J. Dupin, ‘Les deux démarches de Miró’, in XXe Siècle, May, 1961, pp. 58-62.
Executed in 1975, Personnage, oiseaux displays the sense of urgency and the buoyant creativity that characterised Joan Miró’s enthusiastic embracement of drawing towards the end of his career. Conjuring the presence of two of Miró’s most recurrent themes – a fantastical ‘character’ and birds – the drawing combines enveloping, black gestural brushstrokes and notes of vibrant colour. Personnage, oiseaux embodies the poetic language we associate with Miró’s work and which fully realised itself in his famous Constellation series executed between 1939 and 1941. Staying true to these symbols; sun, moon stars, figures, birds, woman […] throughout the rest of his career, in the present work we see an expression of these powerfully important symbols and the genesis of the graphic shorthand, bordering on graffiti-style, that he developed in his final works. Reduced to simplified lines, interconnecting across the paper these works were to suggest an ‘incomplete’ script, which Jacques Dupin compares to the twelve-tone music Miró was so fond of, as he describes these later works with their: ‘Simple loops, arches, vectors that barely curve, but whose precision in the curve, the direction, the positioning, propels across the empty spaces and the patches of colour a human song that is both tremulous and resolute.’ (J. Dupin, ‘Les deux démarches de Miró’, in XXe Siècle, May, 1961, pp. 58-62).
In the later stages of his career Miró never lost his buoyant creativity, instead he kept painting, with a focus to the material he was working on, and the distinct forms. His energy never waned, between 1975 and 1978 Miró produced over two hundred paintings, and during these same years, his production of sculptures proliferated. Works on paper also acquired more and more importance in Miró’s artistic production. Commenting on the period, Dupin would describe the atmosphere from which drawings such as Personnage, oiseaux emerged as follows: ‘The room was furnished with little more than a board laid across two trestles, a stool, and a sofa. Miró’s tools were pencils, brushes, ink, several tubes of paint and reams of paper placed on the sofa. These were Miró’s last years: drawing, drawing without end, drawing to hold on. Miró’s surfaces became any paper beneath his hand: letters, envelopes, junk mail, wrapping paper, newspaper, cardboard boxes, along with fine paper from Auvergne, Japan, China or Madagascar. Miró’s voracious appetite for paper, and his accompanying drawing frenzy were fed by the paper from his mail and from the kitchen. Hundreds of scattered sheets spelled a final, exceptional moment in Miró’s creative activity’ (J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 2012, p. 354).
Executed applying knotted string, wax crayon, pastel and wash on a large sheet of thick textured brown paper, Personnage, oiseaux is a true example of how the artist was working voraciously with these rudimentary supports, and variety of materials that were to hand at the time. Amidst this sense of energy created by the diversity of materials used, the surface is carefully organised, with spacing, textures and relationships balanced into a choreographed performance. The triumph of the blackness is due only to the deliberate placement of colour and the manner in which the knotted string echoes the arabesque lines. It is perhaps this sense of harmonious sonority which most typifies Miró's mature work of the 1970s, such as Personnage, oiseaux.