Joan Baixas and Paca Rodrigo, Terra Prenyada

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

How could a show ‘born out of the Australian deserts and mud planes of Russia’ convincingly migrate to the bland interior of a University theatre on a chilly Saturday night? Answer: enthrallingly so.

Catalan artist Joan Baixas is a collector of earth, a creator of images and an engaging storyteller. In Terra Prenyada (‘Pregnant Earth’) Joan casually enters the sawdust-sprinkled stage to explain that we will not see a puppet show, but the experience will be a view into the workshop of someone who loves to paint. Joan paints with mud. He prepares his surface: a translucent screen, which is hoisted and stretched centre stage like a diaphragm onto which his mud-drawn images can breathe.

Behind the screen, Joan creates, in large-scale doodling manner, faces, characters, plants, expressions of mood and being painted and scraped in fluid mud and illuminated by projected light. He is a conjurer, an alchemist, an artist, a down to earth man, who in a relaxed manner tells us a story and then, through mud, gives expression to it. He tells the story of mud made from the ashes of burned books from a Sarajevo library. Once in his cauldron, the former printed words transformed into new visual poetry.

Black and white photographic projections are used to stunning effect. Joan holds into the dark an A4 sheet of paper on which he momentarily captures projected images of children’s faces, like a net catching precious butterflies. Then the paper is crumpled and thrown away.

Terra Prenyada is accompanied live by musician and singer Paca Rodrigo, who weaves her voice and music into Joan’s paintings, giving yet another dimension to the already full experience.

Terra Prenyada is a unique and highly pleasurable show, not without humour. Joan concludes the evening, wiping his hands and telling us with a smile that they pride themselves on being the dirtiest show in the world. We laughed and left enraptured.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 24