The acclaimed painting, “Harlequin’s Carnival (Spanish: Le Carnaval d’Arlequin)”, interpreted as an elucidation of the human subconscious mind, was a masterpiece by the famous Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramicist Joan Miro (1893-1983). Of a modest and reclusive nature, Joan was the son of a well-to-do goldsmith. Created during 1924-25, the “Harlequin Carnival” measures 66 cm x 93 cm. This oil painting on canvas, conceived in France, well represents ‘Surrealism’, the painter’s preferred style. Being magnificently unconventional, “Harlequin’s Carnival” has always drawn criticism from art experts for not conforming to the usual eloquence of art.
The carnival shown in the “Harlequin Carnival” is a joyous festival, a period of revelry that ends before Ash Wednesday on the Christian calendar. The end of the carnival marks the start of the LENT season, commemorating the Passion of Christ through individual sacrifices over the next forty days. At carnival, people celebrate by dressing up as fun characters and objects called floats and move around the venue, entertaining others and creating a friendly and festive atmosphere. Joan Miro depicts many enthusiastic and colorful characters in “Harlequin’s Carnival” as an unprecedented collection, with most of the images and shapes probably created in a playful mood.
The central character of the painting, Harlequin, is a person who wears a mask or costume for fun. The painting features the hidden expression of a man imagining himself in a fun and joyful environment. Some of the other featured characters in “Harlequin’s Carnival” are two cats sharing the same piece of yarn to play with and an inquisitive sun peeking out of the window. There are similar looking musical notes flowing next to a violin. A tall man in a yellow mask is shown in the center and a man in a guitar costume is seen next to him. This man’s feet are quite visible, as he is standing next to the dice, where a busy insect is sitting. There is a ladder to the left of the painting and at the top are two human forms swaying in the gentle breeze, amusing themselves in an imaginative trapezoid shape. A man with a two-tone face, red and blue, with a long mustache is shown and a fish can also be seen on the table. Various other unidentified images are there in the “Harlequin Carnival”, as part of the festive atmosphere.
Overall, Joan’s painting definitely provokes a moment of carnivalesque fervor in the viewer’s mind. The “Harlequin Carnival” has been defined as “a random choice of images in an illogical arrangement”. The painting currently graces the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.