Until February 25th 2018, Barcelona’s MACBA presents Poesia Brossa, an extensive collection of the work of Joan Brossa and other collaborating and inspired artists such as Ian Hamilton-Finlay, Marcel Mariën and Nicanor Parra. The exhibition utilises the beautifully bright spaces that the MACBA offers and covers several vast rooms full of imaginatively visual pieces.
Born in 1919 Brossa developed his artistic practise in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. It is visible that in the height of Francoism Brossa used his anti-poetry as a platform to express his political leanings. His work transcends multiple artistic disciplines and showcases his commitment to experimental poetry, theatre, cinematography and performance. The expansive assembly of work challenges conventional poetry and uses letters, objects, signs and symbols to produce pieces in which the readers must interpret themselves. Brossa stated that ‘these verses, like a score are nothing but a group of signs to decipher. The reader of the poem is an executer’.
Within the socio-political context he was working, he intentionally voices his anti-Franco position. The absence of avant garde in this society served to highlight the space for freedom that Brossa was campaigning for, blurring the boundaries between poetry, language and performance. The political undertones of his work is masked in the humour, the unusual and the investigational nature of the collection and this is where Brossa’s brilliance shines brightest.
At selected times throughout the exhibition performers will enter and continue the surprise that Brossa’s work elicits. Those around will see performers slowly take off layers of black t-shirts to the sound of a monotonous trombone, it remains unknown whether this has the desired effect. The meaning of this seems most pertinent when aligned with Brossa’s social commitment, in a dictatorship which nudity was forbidden this undressing echoes Brossa’s continual questioning of freedom.
Curators Teresa Grandas and Pedro G Romero have combined the works of Brossa with other artists who stretch the limits of visual poetry, and viewers are invited to determine similarities and tensions between the various works exhibited. This impressive collection at the MACBA pays apt homage to one of Catalonia’s finest creators and well deserves a visit.
I am an English Literature and History student temporarily living in Barcelona. I’m eating, drinking and dancing my way through as much of the city as I can!