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Created by the famous Spanish painter, Joan Miro, Carnival of Harlequin is a world famous surrealistic painting. In fact, it is the first surrealistic painting created by Miro.
The multi-talented painter was also engaged in sculpting and creating ceramic artwork or objects. One glance at the Carnival of Harlequin and one would see that there is a lot going on in the painting. However, to make sense of the painting or to derive a symbolic meaning is not advisable because Miro himself describes it as a brilliant dream image. Infused with a variety of colors and landscape similar to that of Miro's native Catalonia in Spain, the painting is basically an attempt by the painter to capture his hallucinations caused by hunger, as quoted from an interview of Miro.
While there was a series of paintings following this one on the same theme, Carnival of Harlequin remains the most special and popular, not just because it was the first in the line of paintings but because it has a fantastic charm and a reversal sense of space, which is quite unique. True to its name, the painting depicts an indoor scene wherein there is some sort of carnival or feverish rally going on. The lively atmosphere is so entrancing that even the tablecloth seems to want to slide down to join in on the celebrations. The ladder are also seen in motion here and curious spirits are dancing or frolicking about!
The protagonist or central character of the game, Harlequin is the main focus here. Harlequin is seen wearing a disguise or mask for fun. A man who is dressed up like a guitar is seen next to him and many would argue that he wears a sad expression, which gives a stark contrast to the overall happy atmosphere. There are two cat-like creatures having a jolly time playing with what appears to be a ball of wool in the lower right corner of the painting. The atmosphere in the painting is so joyful that even the inquisitive sun is peeking in through the window to get a good look of the carnival! Another prominent character in the painting would be that of a busy insect who is seated on a dice. Two characters (in the form of humans) are seen swaying in the breeze from the ladder, as though they are on an imaginative trapeze.
Carnival of Harlequin was painted in the year 1924 or 1925. It is said that during this year, Miro held an exhibition in Paris, at the Pierre Gallery. The exhibition was attended by popular surrealist painters of the time, such as Masson, Dali and Redon to name a few. To Miro's surprise, the exhibition turned out to be a roaring success and the visitors showed immense interest and appreciation for his work. Thus, Miro became an overnight success and one of the most eye-catching artists in Paris after the exhibition. Carnival of Harlequin was created shortly after the exhibition took place. The whole happy, humorous and pure atmosphere of the painting was admired and appreciated by one and all, even to this day!