Against an endless, ethereal blue background, delicate lines, whimsical forms and abstract patches of colour emerge in Joan Miró’s poetic Peinture. Painted in 1927, the present work belongs to Miró’s radical and much celebrated series of ‘oneiric’ or ‘dream’ paintings, which the artist began in Paris in 1925. Seeking to eliminate references to the external world, with these dream paintings Miró sought to channel a subconscious, interior world onto his canvases, so as to explore what he once described as, ‘all the golden sparks of our souls’ (Miró, quoted in M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, London, 1987, p. 83). Against a monochrome background of first blue and later white, Miró deployed a highly individual pictorial idiom that consisted of freely invented signs, which imbue these works with a celestial, otherworldly quality.
Miró began his dream paintings while living and working at 45, rue Blomet in Paris. Surrounded by a circle of artists and poets, including André Masson, who had a studio next to Miró, Michel Leiris and Robert Desnos, the artist found himself in the midst of an intensely fertile creative environment, which inspired him to move away from realism and traditional pictorial convention, towards a new form of painting. Miró later reflected on this critical moment in his career, ‘Then, being with all the poets opened new doors for me, helping me go past the plastic pictorial fact, to go beyond painting: that was very, very important. Rue Blomet, for me that is something crucial in my life and in my work, because of the time I was able to spend in Paris, with poets, above all with writers’ (Miró, quoted in M.A. Caws, ‘Surrealism and the rue Blomet’, in Surrealism and the rue Blomet, exh. cat., New York, 2013, p. 15).
Inspired by the automatic poetry of his peers, the nascent Surrealist movement, and the dream-like, hallucinatory visions that he was experiencing due to extreme hunger, Miró started to paint with a new, unpremeditated and unconstrained abstract imagery composed of signs and forms. The artist explained, ‘the signs of an imaginary writing appeared in my work. I painted without premeditation, as if under the influence of a dream. I combined reality and mystery in a space that had been set free… I was no longer subjected to dream-dictation, I created my dreams through my paintings… I escaped into the absolute of nature’ (Miró, quoted in M. Rowell, ed., op. cit., p. 264). Set within an empty abyss, Miró’s freely invented signs and forms take on an enigmatic visual power. Peinture consists of just three elements: a resonating black rectangle, waves of black and yellow colour, and a graceful conversion of delicate lines that coalesce into a swan-like image. With this sparsity of means, Miró is able to communicate a poetic mystery, creating a dream-like vision set within an endless blue void. With its elegant, lyrical forms and spontaneity of execution, Peinture encapsulates Miró’s desire to transcend the conventions of painting to realise a revelatory visual form free from realistic imitation.