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Artist and visual poet, Joan Brossa was a creator of overflowing intelligence. Brossa’s works share the common denominator of not leaving one indifferent and provoking thought.

(Barcelona 1919 - Barcelona 1998)

In late 1941, Brossa met the poet J.V. Foix, a leading figure of Catalan literary surrealism in the period before the Civil War, who became a significant influence. Through Foix, Brossa came into contact with members of the ADLAN group, including the painter Joan Miró and the artistic promoter Joan Prats. With them, he explored various European avant-gardes, including surrealism and dadaism.
His interest in psychology and Freud’s work suggested the creation of hypnagogic images and drew him closer to psychic automatism and surrealism. Mallarmé, an example of intellectual rigor and a true precursor of the calligram before even Apollinaire, inspired Brossa’s creation of visual poetry.
In 1948, Brossa participated in the creation of the magazine Dau al Set with painters Joan Ponç, Antoni Tàpies, Modest Cuixart, and Joan-Josep Tharrats, polygraph Juan Eduardo Cirlot, and philosopher Arnau Puig. This magazine became a crucial reference point for the Catalan artistic vanguard of the time, in clear contrast to the intellectual stagnation prevailing under the early Franco regime.
The concept of art as visuality, as a spectacle, is present in all his work. With a family background in the world of theater, Brossa expressed his interest in this genre and its elements of magic and surprise from a young age. In his youth, Brossa even practiced prestidigitation. Brossa’s passion for romantic music, especially by Richard Wagner (he was also a fan of Johannes Brahms), reaffirms his interest in dramaturgy. In theater, Brossa found the fourth dimension of the poem (Dau al Set, the seventh face of the die). The same occurred with cinema, a genre of which he was literally a fanatic.
In the 1960s, Brossa premiered the play "Or i Sal" (literary theater, with scenography by Antoni Tàpies) and some performance-like actions that can be considered clear predecessors of happening or performance art.
Brossa’s theatrical work is extensive, comprising about 380 pieces published in six volumes, in addition to some unpublished and lesser-known works. It focuses on absurd theater, seemingly irrelevant dialogues, and grotesque situations. His opera librettos, written for his friends, musicians Josep Maria Mestres Quadreny and Carles Santos, as well as the film scripts created by Pere Portabella and Frederic Amat, also deserve special attention.
From 1943, Brossa began working with object poems, which started to be publicly exhibited from 1956, often in collaboration with painters such as Miró, Tàpies, or Ponç.
His visual poetry and posters constitute the most well-known part of his work, to the point where Brossa became a global reference in this field.
He returned to object poems later, following Marcel Duchamp’s path but surpassing him in external projection and social commitment. For Brossa, the goal was to discover magic in the most mundane object, following the line of poor art but always with a clear message behind each production. From the 1970s, he manipulated objects to delve into their meaning or to represent the naked concept. Objects and poems are often commonplace, with the interest frequently lying in the contrast between the title and the unusual object presented.
Brossa evolved towards installation art, often of large format and occasionally ephemeral. Notably, his intervention in all the exhibition spaces of the Palau de la Virreina in Barcelona in 1994, where he created, starting from the container, a varied and theatrically impactful content.
Over time, Brossa’s plastic work reached a civic dimension: his corporeal visual poems were installed in public spaces as walkable poems integrated into the everyday reality of Barcelona. Later, these corporeal poems reached many points in Catalonia and also in the Balearic Islands, Andorra, Germany, and Cuba. Brossa’s work is considered one of the most avant-garde in the Spanish State.

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