"Catalan Landscape" is an excellent example of Joan Miró’s personal surrealist style, which culminated in the excellent "Harlequin's Carnival”, painted a year later.
At first glance this painting may look abstract, but it is a landscape filled with rich iconography and suggestions of political strife. The two different colors on the background are clearly the sky and the earth. The large beige circle is a cross-section of the trunk of a carob tree that sprouts a leaf and a giant, all-seeing eye bisected by the horizon line. On the left side of the painting we see the stick-figured hunter, with a Catalonian beret and a lit pipe protruding from his mouth, holds a freshly killed rabbit in one hand and a smoking rifle in the other. Joan Miró considered the figure of the hunter—with his trademark moustache, triangle head, and smoking pipe—to be a self-portrait. It is a recurring figure in many of his works.
The scene is set in countryside of Catalonia, a politically autonomous region of Spain near the French border, with its own parliament, language, history, and culture. Catalan nationalism has been a subject of debate for over a century. Perhaps hinting at this contentious history, the Catalan-born Joan Miró depicts the French, Catalan, and Spanish flags in the background.
At the bottom of the painting is the spine of a sardine, accompanied by the letters "sard" on the right. The word “SARD,” also short for “Sardana,” the national dance of Catalonia, is painted in the foreground. This word is also a reference to the fragmented letters and words found in Dadaist and Surrealist poetry.
In 1923 Miró moved from Montroig, just south of Barcelona, to Paris. The move meant a transition from painting directly from nature to working in a Paris studio. A few years later, Miró explained the impact on his work, stating, “I have managed to escape into the absolute nature, and my landscapes have nothing in common anymore with outside reality….”
“Catalan Landscape” was of great importance in Miró’s career, having a great influence on his series of “imaginary landscapes” created in 1926-27.