Brossa Poetry

From: Tuesday, 29 May 2018

To: Sunday, 23 September 2018

Place: North Gallery

A complete review of the work o Joan Brossa, from his first books to his latest plastic investigations, Through theatre, cinema and action arts

This monographic exhibition of Joan Brossa (Barcelona, 1919–1998) brings together 600 works and an abundant selection of documentation from the Joan Brossa Fonds, in a survey that shows the consolidation of his artistic language through his visual experiments, poetry, theatre, cinema and artistic actions. Brossa is a poet, but his works always stand at the crossroads of languages, so the exhibition emphasises his poiesis, his way of doing. Brossa opens a new space, the space in which poetry embraces actions, images and objects. In that sense, the exhibition looks at Brossa’s work from three main angles: orality, the performative and anti-poetry.

Brossa developed his artistic practice from the 1940s, in a socio-political context marked by the Franco dictatorship and in a cultural situation largely devoid of avant-garde and innovative proposals. From the beginning, his work was one of aesthetic renewal based on literary and artistic research. Until the moment of his death, he never ceased to develop new forms of expression and ways of experimenting with different media.

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Brossa Poetry begins at the moment in which the traits of his poetry are forged and defined, with his first writings dating from the Spanish Civil War, and concludes by confronting and putting his work in dialogue with that of Marcel Mariën, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Nicanor Parra. Along the way, we can see remarkable aspects of Brossa’s universe such as his critique of merchandise, the poetic concept of language, the reading of Brossa as antipoetry and Transformism, as well as gestures and political actions such as his support for the tram strike of 1951, the sit-in of intellectuals in Montserrat in 1970 and the Anti-Tourism Itinerary around Barcelona, which constitute some of the case studies included in the exhibition.

Brossa Poetry consists of five sections. In the first, his earliest writings are collected, as well as works that show how he favoured Miró over Dalí, his materialism akin to the Informalist shift of Tàpies and the influence of Joâo Cabral de Melo, among other aspects. In the second, we find a wide selection of the Suites (1959–69) and the Poemes habitables (1970), in which Brossa incorporates elements such as games or dialogues with the page, resulting in a rich poetic language based on minimal interventions.

The third section reviews Brossa’s poetry through Transformism and through languages not considered conventionally artistic but that he includes in his personal grammar, like striptease and magic, to name but two. The penultimate section is a visual recapitulation, in which the presentation of the works follows the design of the triple exhibition of 1988 and 1989 in the galleries Mosel & Tschechow, Munich; Joan Prats, Barcelona; and La Máquina Española, Madrid. Finally, Brossa Constellations extends the references to other artists with whom Brossa shares numerous thematic and formal concerns: Marcel Mariën (Belgium), Ian Hamilton Finlay (Scotland) and Nicanor Parra (Chile).

Poet in the broadest sense of the word, Joan Brossa (Barcelona, 1919–1998) produced an extensive body of work that involved experiments with different languages. In the 1940s he met the poet J.V. Foix, one of his literary references, the philosopher Arnau Puig and the artists Modest Cuixart, Joan Ponç, Antoni Tàpies and Joan-Josep Tharrats. With them he founded the avant-garde group and magazine Dau al Set (1948), collaborating with Surrealist texts full of dream-like and hypnagogic images close to psychic automatism. It was the beginning of a large body of literary work that used language as a means of experimentation and that led its author to visual poetry, dramaturgy, sculpture and performance.

The elements of his poetry, such as irony, association, decontextualisation and rejection of the differentiation between word and object, crystallised in the making of objects. His work reflects the concerns that had been accumulating throughout his poetic itinerary: the search for everyday magic, social denunciation and transgression. By the end of his life, Brossa had received wide recognition with numerous translations of his written work, exhibitions of his artistic production and awards, which made him one of the main figures of the Catalan avant-garde.

Opening programme  Linked activities 


Brossa Poetry

Curators: Teresa Grandas and Pedro G. Romero
North gallery, from 2018 may 29 to september 23
Exhibition organized by Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and Artium (Vitoria-Gasteiz), with the collaboration of Fundació Joan Brossa. With the support of AC/E and Institut Ramon Llull.
This exhibition is held at Artium thanks to the support of El Correo, EDP, Euskaltel and Fundación Vital

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