Vineyards and Olive Trees
by Mary Falkner
I remember the very first time I came face to face with a Joan Miro painting. It was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The painting was "Vineyards and Olive Trees" dating from 1919. It was situated among other famous surrealist works of the era. There were Picasso's and the every dominant, aggressive Dali canvases.
This particular Miro work is rather small and stood out between the mostly large works of the exhibition. It drew you in. You couldn't help but step closer for a better look. The work created a kind of intimacy with the viewer. In contrast to everything surrounding it, the work resonated an simple elegance which struck a chord within me.
The awkward jutting cubist lines of the ploughed soil, the brilliantly earthly colours, the texture of the paint on the canvas all together create a work that is heavenly to look at, yet at the same time are grounded in the realities of a Catalan landscape.
It is not a romantized landscape but rather, as indicated in the shapes, a fierce landscape. Miro's affection and admiration of his homeland is clearly expressed and he does not portray any falsities about it. "Vineyards and Olive Trees" is what he sees when he looks upon the vast landscape of Catalonia.
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