Translated by María Miró Maestre
Alicante, 30 November 2016
5 years ago, in 2011, one of the plastic artists that has most frequently collaborated with the University of Alicante, after whom a Contemporary Art Research chair was even named, donated the sculpture Almansa 1707 to the UA. Of course, we are talking about the great artist from Alcoi, Antoni Miró.
Now, photographer Roberto Ruíz, who is an image and sound technician at the UA Audiovisual Studio, presents a photo series where his glance is devoted to the sculpture, showing us a different perspective from that of a distracted passer-by.
The photographer brings about an interpretation in which the flirt of the sculpture with the light at different times of the day is the key factor. Ruíz's perspective makes us stop and rethink this artwork and its range of nuances in all its power. The photographer's work invites us to watch the sculpture either when the shadows of the sunset draw its mysterious silhouette up in the sky, or when the morning sun draws the sparkling figures that were once conceived by Miró.
The photographs were taken at 09.30 a.m., 12.30, 3.30, 8.30 and 9 p.m. (Click here to check out the album on Facebook)
"Antoni Miró is one of the most daring painters in contemporary art because his always neo-figuratively-themed artwork puts a mirror in front of the society and people's faces to show our true colours [...]. It is true that we are indeed progressing a lot, but the pain remains, and every time it is more stuck to our fragility and to the fratricidal impulses that we haven't still managed to drown in Bach's music or Flaubert's literature".
Isabel-Clara Simó, journalist, writer and a friend of the artist (6 November 2012, El punt avui newspaper)
The impressive sculpture, which is 9.6 x 33 x 3 feet, is made out of four and a half tonnes of weathering steel. It is located in the fountain next to building 3 of the Faculty of Arts. This area was given the name 25 April Square due to an initiative by Ignacio Jiménez Raneda, former President of the University of Alicante.
25 April 1707, a turning point
Yes, the name of the square wasn't chosen randomly. It was that day that the Almansa Battle, which is represented on this sculpture, took place.
In this battle the troops of the Archduke of Austria, Charles II, were defeated by Philip V in the War of the Spanish Succession, which paved the way for Philip V to finally conquer the Kingdom of Valencia. But that was not all. It also brought along the abolition of the regional Fueros (charters), the prohibition of using Valencian, and the country's shifting towards centralisation, among other consequences. With all this, Antoni Miró defends memory as a means to highlight our identity in this work.
"I shall hereby subject all the realms of Spain to the homogeneity of the same laws, uses, customs and Courts, so they shall all be equally ruled by the so laudable and reasonable laws of Castilla. Hence I hereby entirely abolish and revoke all the fueros, privileges, practices and costumes observed in the kingdoms of Aragon ad Valencia to this day, and reduce them to the laws of Castilla, and to the use, practice and way of government that the realm and its courts have, so that there shall be no differences whatsoever between them [...]"
An excerpt of the Nueva Planta Decrees of Aragon and Valencia
Thus, connecting this with the words of his dear friend Isabel-Clara Simó, we can see how Miró really places that mirror in front of human beings, and how the reflection emphasizes how many cruel deeds have been committed on behalf of great causes. This way, the top of the sculpture is shaped as bird wings that try to provide shelter to the wounded and dead, despite everything. In summary, the artist revisits an episode of our history, as it has already been mentioned, but he does it while paying close attention to the future.
The Almansa Battle (detail), Ricardo Balaca, 1826, oil on canvas
As shown above, it is important to highlight that Antoni Miró does a sculptural reinterpretation of an 1862 painting by Ricardo Balaca that was made in commemoration of the Almansa Battle in 1707.
The Almansa Battle (detail), Ricardo Balaca, 1826, oil on canvas
He was born in Alcoi in 1944. In 1960, he was awarded the first Alcoi Town Council painting prize. In January 1965, he made his first individual exhibition and also founded Alcoiart Group (1965-72); in 1972, he founded the "Denunzia Group" in Brescia (Italy). He has shown many exhibitions in Spain and abroad, as well as received several awards and mentions. He is also a member of several international academies.
During his professional career, Miró has undertaken a wide variety of initiatives ranging from strictly artistic projects where he expresses his efficient dedication to all plastic arts, to relentless culture devotion and promotion.
His work falls within social realism. He started exploring figurative expressionism as a way to denounce human suffering. In the late sixties, his interest in social topics steered him towards neo-figurativism, with a critical and denouncing message that would become one with art movement "Crónica de la realidad" in the 70s. This trend, which falls within the international art movements of pop art and realism, takes the propaganda images produced by our industrial society and the linguistic codes used by the media as its starting point.
Miró has always rejected all types of oppression and cried out for freedom and human sympathy, as can be seen in the different series and periods in his work, such as “Les Nues” (1964), “La Fam” (1966), “Els Bojos” (1967), “Experimentacions” and “Vietnam” (1968), “L’Home” (1970), “América Negra” (1972), “L’Home Avui” (1973), “El Dólar” (1973-80), “Pinteu Pintura” (1980-90), “Vivace” (1991-2001), “Sense Títol” (2001-2013), and “Sense Sèrie” (from 2014)- His artworks are exhibited in several museums and collections from all over the world and there is also a large amount of bibliography that thoroughly studies his work.
In summary, if his paintings hope to raise awareness on certain life topics, one could also say that his creative process is aimed at "raising awareness on painting" to a great extent. He shows us that we can see how diverging experiences, techniques, strategies and resources combine to constitute his particular plastic language; therefore, apart from being a "means" to ideological communication, Miró stands up as clear proof of aesthetic communication.
He has been a sound and image technician at the UA Audiovisual Studio since 1995, where he has created audiovisual productions for several TV channels such as TVE (Spanish public television), TV 200 KG (German public television) and CNTC (Spanish Classical Theatre Company). He has also worked for Canal 9, Antena 3 and Telecinco TV channels.
Regarding photography, he is in charge of the University of Alicante's corporate image works and institutional photographs. He is a lecturer in the UA Sound and Image Expert Course, in the Writing and Production of Documentaries Workshop from Menéndez Pelayo International University, as well as in the Film Editing degree at the Ciudad de la Luz Study Center. He is currently teaching the photography courses organised by the UA.
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