Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement, 1936 by Joan Miro

In his "wild paintings" of the 1930s Miro conjures up a scenario of horrors. We feel as if we had been carried off into a mediaeval purgatory. There is a sultry sombreness about the colours, and a sharp light-and-dark contrast plunges the scene into a light that seems cruel and unreal. Protruding from this dark nightmare landscape are two bizarre figures with enormous genitals. Gesticulating at each other and plunged in Bengal light, they appear to be worshipping some kind of divinity. We cannot tell whether they are talking about the pile of excrement which has given the picture its tide and has been put up in the right-hand corner like some pagan idol.

I had this unconscious feeling of impen- ding disaster. T h e feeling you have before it starts to rain, with aching limbs and a stifling numbness. It was a physical, rather than a psychological sensation. I had the premonition that there would soon be a catastrophe, though I did not know which: it was the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War ...Why I chose this title? At the time I was fascinated by words of Rembrandt: I can find rubies and emeralds in a pile of dung"
- Joan Miro