Critics’ Picks

Joan Miró, Group of People at Night in the Forest, 1977, ballpoint pen and pencil on paper, 12 x 8".


Joan Miró

Galerie Gmurzynska | Paradeplatz 2 | Zurich
Paradeplatz 2
October 3–January 30

This exhibition is an enriching supplement to the major retrospective currently on view at the Kunsthaus Zürich, offering a glimpse of a lesser-known Joan Miró with works spanning each decade of the artist’s career. While the Kunsthaus show provides a crowd-pleasing survey of paintings in his canonical style, this one goes deeper in proving just how multifaceted Miró was as an artist.

The sheer range of media here rouses us to the depth of the artist’s formal curiosity, with examples of his work in sculpture, drawing, and mixed-media collage, as well as textile-based assemblages that Miró called “sobreteixim,” adapting an old Catalan word for a small piece of fabric used to patch another, larger piece. Among the few paintings on view, the tiny Painting from 1927 is the highlight. Against a blue ground, there are just three elements: a black square on the left and to the right, a thin L-shape morphing into a birdlike figurine, beneath which is a floating yellow-black carpet swirl. From the artist’s more recognizable late style is Woman I, 1972, where thick black lines curve their way into a strangulated, figurative rendering.

But the paintings are not what you’re here for. It is exhibitions like this that bravely assert that even a minor work by a major artist might turn out to be a masterpiece, if only we got to see it. Here’s one example: Group of People at Night in the Forest, 1977, a drawing on the artist’s personal letterhead using ballpoint pen and pencil, an ode to the eruptive magic that can spontaneously happen when you hand a genius a writing utensil—a true symphony of line play.