In June 1940 Mir fled France as the German armies advanced, and arrived by late July in Palma Mallorca where he stayed with his wife's family. Having spent the previous five years in exile, Mallorca was far enough from the seat of authority in Madrid to allow the artist to live in Spain without attracting attention.
Mir's stay in Mallorca, which lasted until mid-1942, proved to be a significant stage in the development of his work. Here he completed the last of his celebrated Constellations. He soon turned away from the dense concentration of forms and signs that characterize these works, and began to work in a looser, more improvisatory manner, "characterized by a freedom of invention and a marvelous effortlessness In the new evolution of his art, which was to end in the creation of his definitive style, renewed contact with Spain after five years of absence--with Mallorca most especially--was doubtless crucial" (J. Dupin, Mir, New York, 1962, p. 369).
In early 1943 Mir resettled in Barcelona, setting up a large studio at 4 Passage del Crdit, the house in which he had been born. In 1942 and 1943 Mir executed many works, all on paper. Almost all of them are variations on a single theme, the symbolic relationship between woman, bird and star. The human figure may be a generalized personnage, while in others--as in the present work--characterized by sparse hair and an exaggeratedly phallic proboscis. Whatever their apparent gender, these figures stand for an earthy human presence, sometimes with tragic connotations, or more frequently with comic foibles, "as they clown around, run their foolish errands, play their whimsical or mysterious games" (ibid., p. 374). The asterisk-like stars, seen here at upper left and lower right, represent the spiritual and cosmic dimensions of existence. The bird, seen at lower right, is an angel-like intermediary between the heavenly and the mundane.
The improvisatory nature of these works also stems from Mir's free use of combined media. He usually began by applying loosely brushed or scrubbed washes of color to the sheet. These nebulous blotches of color form a space in which the figures, birds and star coalesce, as if from primal matter, and take their place in spontaneous yet intuitively balanced compositions. These shapes are usually defined by outlines in ink or charcoal, which the artist then heightened with smudged spots of pastel. In Personnage, oiseau, toiles, Mir synthesizes elements of painting and drawing and with accidental effects and skillful design.