Joan Brossa

Do you think that if I didn't like it / I could stay the way I do / and write the way I write?

NoguerasBlanchard, Madrid
Sep 8 - Nov 5, 2022

Opening: Thursday 8 Sep. 12 – 22h

Poetry reading curated by JUF: Thursday 8 Sep. 19h. With Tarek Lakhrissi, Billy Morgan, Olivia Douglass

Joan Brossa's work shouldn’t need a presentation or an introduction. A libertarian poet, critical, defiant, he has produced a body of work that transcends classification. Time and again in books, exhibitions and stage works, his pieces have fired direct shots into the conscience of the spectator, while critics and curators have often tiptoed around the transcendence of the message. As Victoria Combalía notes, "he's watered down and relegated (...) to a kind of poetic limbo". Brossa, the poet "in the broadest sense of the word". Brossa, the illusionist. Brossa the character. Nothing defines him entirely.

One thing that Joan Brossa made very clear was his strong critical spirit, and that his ethics and working practices were governed by it. This was true from the very beginning, and it can be seen in his writings for avant garde group Dau al Set - based in Barcelona from 1948 to 1956 - in his radical stage creations and in the objects he created from the 1970s onwards. In his own words, "if I couldn't write, in moments of euphoria I would be a guerrilla fighter, in moments of passivity a conjurer or magician. Being a poet includes both".

Manuel Guerrero argues in Joan Brossa o la revolta poética that Brossa's work is rooted in a revolutionary culture associated with the republican and anarchist tradition, and that it expresses the nostalgia of a happy childhood spent in republican Catalonia. At the same time, it shows a radical confrontation with the official culture of Francoism and the need to break with the dark times of the dictatorship. Thus, utopia and alienation constitute the opposites of a dialectical work that seeks to take hold in reality.

The selection of objects in this presentation illustrates this revolutionary thinking. Without concessions or hidden messages, they are presented in their full potential, just as they were conceived. These works, originally presented in Germany, have remained there for over 30 years and have been ocasionally exhibited in Brossa's major retrospectives. Pere Portabella's film No compteu amb els dits (1967), with a script by Brossa, assumes this duality through the language of advertising, as reflected in the first sentence of the film "defeated..., but not beaten". 

To further explore the creative complexity of Joan Brossa’s approach, the gallery has invited Juf, a poetry project directed by Beatriz Ortega Botas (Oviedo, 1990, curator) and Leticia Ybarra (Madrid, 1991, writer and artist) that addresses the relationship between language, visual arts and their political and social dimensions. Their participation will activate the exhibition through readings and performances by international artists and poets, an approach will be made to the work of Joan Brossa and to contemporary practices that raise questions about the politics of representation, the expansion of the poetic act or the renewed interest in imagination, magic or surrealism.

This exhibition would not have been possible without the invaluable collaboration of Pere Portabella / Films 59, Andrea Tschechow, Fundació Joan Brossa, Galeria Joan Prats, Galeria Joan Gaspar.

Joan Brossa (Barcelona, 1919-1998). He began his career in the 1940s under the guidance of Josep Vicenç Foix, Joan Miró and Joan Prats. He co-founded the magazines Algol in 1947 and Dau al Set in 1948 and collaborated assiduously with artists. Despite developing an intense activity from the start, it was not until 1970 that he gained recognition from a literary point of view thanks to the publication of 'Poesía rasa' and until 1986 when the first anthological exhibition was inaugurated at the Fundació Miró, 'Joan Brossa o las palabras son las cosas' (Joan Brossa or Words Are Things). From that moment on, the poet established himself as one of the leading figures in contemporary Catalan literature and art.

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Selected Works

Joan Brossa
Feina de dissatbe


Disassembled wooden ladder

210 x 188 x 46 cm (82 1116 x 74 132 x 18 18 inches)

Joan Brossa


Bent mannequin

170 x 45 x 35 cm (66 1516 x 17 2332 x 13 2532 inches)

Joan Brossa
Prohibit el pas


No entry sign

160 x 60 x 60 cm (63 x 23 58 x 23 58 inches)

Joan Brossa


Hoe, military medals

129 x 20 x 40 cm (50 2532 x 7 78 x 15 34 inches)

Joan Brossa


Priests hat and spider

13 x 32 x 32 cm (5 18 x 12 1932 x 12 1932 inches)

Joan Brossa
Poema objecte


Prayer stool, confetti

82 x 63 x 44 cm (32 932 x 24 1316 x 17 516 inches)

Joan Brossa


Mirror, serpentines

40 x 30 x 170 cm (15 34 x 11 1316 x 66 1516 inches)

Joan Brossa
18 de juliol, 1970


Renfe ticket, plastic cockroach

3 x 14.8 x 13 cm (1 316 x 5 2732 x 5 18 inches) Plexi box, 10.5 x 15.5 x 14.5 cm (4 18 x 6 332 x 5 2332 inches)

Pere Portabella, Joan Brossa
No compteu amb els dits


35 mm short film


Joan Brossa, Antoni Tàpies


Binding in thick cardboard and fabric, bound with cords. Lithographs by Tàpies and images by Brossa on vellum

41 x 33 x 5 cm (16 18 x 13 x 1 3132 inches)