♢ EDITORIAL by Sal McIntyre, New York ♢
The northernmost point of the Spanish Catalan island of Mallorca is named the Formentor Peninsula — The Mallorcans also call this rocky, emotion-drenched outcropping the ‘Meeting point of the winds.’ It has a famously dramatic presence in its Mediterranean location, the craggy terrain carved out over millennia by the powerful forces of the weather and the sea. In 1863 a lighthouse was built as part of the coastal lighting scheme to provide greater safety for boats sailing off Mallorcan shores at night, and of all the lighthouses of this area the one at Formentor holds a legacy of being the most difficult to build due to its location in one of the island's most rugged and isolated places — and thereby maintains an aura of being also the most resilient.
In 1929 a hotel was built which has since been a historic meeting point and inspiration ground for artists of all kinds, politicians and celebrities from around the world including Winston Churchill, the Dalai Lama, Le Corbusier, Severo Ochoa, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and also Mallorca’s most famous poet Miquel Costa i Llobera, whose family lived on the headland, and whose writing was instrumental in reviving the importance of the Catalan culture and language in Mallorca. This extraordinary landscape was the inspiration for his iconic poem 'The Pine Tree of Formentor' written in 1875, an ode to the remarkable atmosphere that swirls around a longstanding cedar.
Miró, being Catalan himself from Barcelona, was undoubtedly amongst those artists whose work was likely steeped with a visit to this illustrious venue — whether to the Hotel Formentor itself or merely in mingling with the terrain’s pine trees. He most certainly would have read Costa i Llobera’s poem, and that instigation is what would have set in motion Miró’s stunning large scale etching series of the same name.
All six of the enigmatic works in The Pine Tree of Formentor are signed in pencil by Miró, and as a set they are truly unforgettable. Though difficult to fully appreciate from small pictures, Miró’s usual abstract epiphanies sprawl across luscious deckled paper with speed and grace, playfulness and austerity. His experiments with the physicality of the printmaking process reveal beveled edges mid-composition and dimensional elements like handwritten lettering achieved without any ink, lending his inventive forms a sophistication candidly unrivalled.
Surprising subtleties lurk around every turn, as they imaginably do in the namesake’s near mythological acquaintance, as Miró’s textures alight through the space. A translated excerpt from Costa i Llobera’s poem reads “From the silt of the earth no abject sustenance does it take; twisting its roots into the rock outcrop. It imbibes dew and rain, radiant light and wind; and like the old prophet receives sustenance from celestial effluvium.” More than being a compelling standalone work of art, these etchings tap into the same mysterious grandeur that emanates from this otherworldly locale, the very kind that has touched other artistic spirits in a similarly stirring way.