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Barcelona, Spain 1919-1998
A highly regarded Catalan teacher who was one of the most avant-garde and prolific authors of his country.
Joan Brossa was born in the San Gervasio neighbourhood of Barcelona on the 19th of January in 1919, the only son of an engraver and a retired operetta singer. His father gained a passion through theatre of the scenic arts at a tender age. However, his death ended up bringing the newborn Joan Brossa under the influence of the mother's side of the family, traditional and conservative, that quickly established a classic education.
Brossa always detested school and college. He considered that it was a trick that only instilled "opera culture", and he always put this forward to the institutions. "The important things they learn, but they don't teach", he said at one point. In any case, in July of 1936 he had to leave the school in an obligatory manner. Only 17 years old, Joan Brossa was mobilized by the Republican Army to create a front against the "nationalists", and he moved to Lleida. It was precisely on the battlefield when he began his literary career.
At the beginning he alone was noting, taking biographical accounts, and impressions of the front. A little after, the controllers asked him for a text to amuse the others. All the sheets of paper would form part, years later, of the book Trenta Divisio, published in 1950. As the war finished, Brossa had to complete his military service, like so many other Republicans whose experience and years in combat were deliberately ignored after participating on the losing end.
After military service, Brossa was completely integrated in the avant-garde intellect. He was strongly influenced by Freud, and dedicated himself to composing a part from his free associations of imagines from dreams, so-called "hypnotic images".
In these first avant-garde works, Brossa introduces clear theatrical elements, and concerns himself with the everyday absurd. He represents surrealism by creating popular subject matter, but does not lose sight of the political horizon, demanding and progressive, that will accompany him through out all his life.
He collaborated with the foundation of the group "Dau al Set" together at Tapies, Cuixart, PonÃ§, and Puig. He began his interest in the neo-surrealism and later he moved in a line of reflection of reality and of experimental and visual poetry.
This capacity of experimentation would eventually become crucial during the 1960's and 1975, in which Brossa would take a leap towards visual poetry. It was during this key period of his life that he would begin to collaborate with artists of the magnitude of Joan Miro or Antoni Tapies. Brossa developed his recreational and participative concept of poetry, that he found his ultimate expression in the experimentation of objects. He tried to avoid the limitations of the written language to access a level of symbolic and unlimited representation. In this way, poetry could be a sculpture, a poster, an action.
During the Transition, Brossa reprimanded his poetry as politically committed, but the normalization of the democratic life, later, brought him every time more towards plastics. In this way, the work of Brossa began to stray away gradually from literature to studying thoroughly more and more each time in the experimental. An exhibition in the Miro Foundation in Barcelona in 1986 would be decisive. The enormous success that he obtained opened the doors to new installations, new objects, and a new stage of creative productivity in the life of the poet. His poems in form of sculptures arrived on the street: in Barcelona they stressed the Visual Transient Poem, in the track of the Vall d'Hebron; the Barcino, in the square of the cathedral; the "Antifaz" of la Rambla...
In his last years of his life he received an endless cascade of acknowledgements. His contribution to poetry, the theatre, film and to plastic arts began to make him well-known and understood for the Spanish artistic world, and also for the general public. His work is already located within the framework that he corresponded with: He was one of the most prolific and early avant-garde's of his country.
Essential Biblography: - Gloria Bordons. Introduccion a la poesia de Joan Brossa. Barcelona, 1988 - Jordi Coca: Joan Brossa oblidar i caminar. Barcelona, 1992 - Isidro Valles. Joan Brossa. Les sabes sonmes que un pedestal, Barcelona, 1996 - Lluis Permanyer. Records BrossaxBrossa. Barcelona, 1999 - Eduard Planas. La poesia escenica de Joan Brossa. Barcelona 2002.