Catalan Landscape, 1924 by Joan Miro

Only two years after he painted The Farm, Miró was spending more time back in Catalonia, trying out ways to distil the essence of his Catalan identity still further. He had become friends in Paris with André Breton, finding his once longed-for Surrealism. Surrealism, an artistic response to the power of dreams and the subconscious, was only a brief obsession for Miró but its ideas informed his painting of the mid-1920s, and his methods thereafter. "Every idea has to develop in my unconscious, and sometimes it takes years... The starting point is absolutely irrational, sudden and unconscious: I start off blindly..."

The compulsive detailing of his earlier painting had by the time of The Hunter become a kind of playful shorthand. He had a powerful sense of the emptiness of his remembered landscape, animated only momentarily by human action; life becomes explicable as a diagrammatic series of gestures and relationships, "the underlying magic", as Miró described it, and he developed a way of painting that seemed to respond to those energies. He was in search of the essence of things. In Catalan Landscape, 1924, his Catalan peasant alter ego is captured simultaneously in the act of shooting a rabbit for his cooking pot and fishing for a sardine for his barbecue.

Miró explained the detail of the painting in the following terms to one viewer: "The Catalan peasant has become a triangle with an ear, eye, pipe, the hairs of a beard and a hand. This is a barretina, the Spanish peasant headdress... And the man's heart, entrails and sexual organs. I've shown the Toulouse-Rabat airplane on the left; it used to fly past our house once a week. In the painting I showed it by a propellor, a ladder and the French and Catalan flags. You can see the Paris-Barcelona axis again, and the ladder, which fascinated me. A sea and one boat in the distance, and in the very foreground, a sardine with tail and whiskers gobbling up a fly. A broiler waiting for the rabbit, flames and a pimento on the right..."