Remedios Varo, the witch of Mexican surrealism
Constellations is the title of an exhibition by the Malba (Buenos Aires) on the work of Remedios Varo, which can be followed from his Instagram account.
"Remedios laughs, but his laughter resonates in another world," wrote Octavio Paz about the Spanish surrealist in an article entitled, "Apparitions and Disappearances." In it, he referred to the artist's great capacity to reflect places that do not arise from her imagination, but from memory.
Scenes from very distant, childhood memories, which almost seem to hang like the clothes on a clothesline, whipped by the wind. An alchemic wind, the element in which, according to José María Català, author of Visionarias (ed. Sans Soleil), the painter used to create colorful works, full of symbols, which rise above ruins and misty characters.
Now the Malba, Buenos Aires, collects her work in the exhibition Constellations, which can be followed through the Instagram account of the museum with the introduction of an expert. No less than 35 paintings, drawings, sketches and even fantastic stories from his personal archive.
All of which focus on the almost thirty years she lived in Mexican exile, from 1942 to 1963, after fleeing Spain with the outbreak of the civil war. A magical exile and not exempt from adventures and friendship with other "witches of surrealism."
Born in a small Catalan village whose ruined and haunted contours she would continue to recall in her adult work, Remedios was so named to ease the mother's pain over the recent loss of two of her children.
She grew up in a family of freethinkers and lived in various countries, including Morocco, and from childhood showed a penchant for painting. Her mother encouraged her to study Fine Arts in Madrid, where she met artists such as Lorca and Dalí in the well-known Residencia de Estudiantes and met her first husband, with whom she moved to Paris for a year, before returning and settling in Barcelona to work as an advertising artist.
Remedios Varo was a forger, an insect illustrator and participated in expeditions, as well as practicing magic.
In the libertarian atmosphere of republican Spain, she entered, through other artists, the circle of André Breton, later joining a strange group of Catalan surrealists who called themselves the Logicophobes and used their own mental states as a creative material.
When the civil war broke out in 1936, Remedios joined the Republicans and met the great love of her life, the French poet Benjamin Péret, who had come to Barcelona as a brigadier and with whom she would travel to France, and later as a political exile to Mexico, during the Nazi invasion of 1941.
Primera parte de un recorrido guiado por la exposición “Constelaciones” de la artista Remedios Varo (Anglès, Girona, 1908 - Ciudad de México, 1963) a cargo de Diego Murphy, parte del equipo educativo de Malba. En este video grabado durante el día de hoy, focalizamos en el primer núcleo de la exposición que reúne un nutrido cuerpo de su archivo personal: cuadernos de notas, dibujos, escritos, fotografías, documentos y correspondencias. Además vemos en detalle su obra temprana “Títeres vegetales”, 1938. #RemediosEnMalba #MalbaVirtual
Una publicación compartida por MALBA (@museomalba) el
If you remember Amélie's French film or even love the work of artist Sophie Calle, you'll be quite familiar with the surrealist games that Remedios Varo used to embrace the absurdity before he came to Mexico, such as sending letters to strangers whose names he found in the phone book or selling cakes on the street.
But it was in Mexican lands where she got his recognition and also her friendship with two other witches of the surreal art, the British Leonora Carrington and the Hungarian Kati Honra, besides entering to be part of the circle of the writer Octavio Paz. Although we regret to disappoint them, there is a rumor that the painter Frida Kahlo had her "between her eyes" - if it were not for her absence of eyebrows -; that is to say, he felt quite a dislike for her.
She joined an expedition in Venezuela to study the mosquitoes that transmit malaria and devoted herself to entomological illustration. From there perhaps comes that the characters in some of her works remind us by their faces or their poses of some insects.
The artist was also a forger.
Since she could never make a living from painting, she combined advertising illustration with copying of Chirico's works for a time.
Ruptura 1955 Una mujer de rostro andrógino y expresión seria, protegida por una capa con capucha, abandona una vivienda. Hojas secas, papeles viejos y algunos caracoles (que con su casa a cuestas connotan el pasado) parecen perseguirla mientras desciende las escaleras, cuyos muros a ambos lados, recubiertos de vegetación y más caracoles, acentúan la opresión. La arquitectura románica y la capa, con reminiscencias de los trajes tiesos y estilizados de los frescos románicos de Cataluña, evocan su viaje por España durante su infancia. Los árboles sin hojas, al fondo, indican la estación invernal en que transcurre la escena y potencian el ambiente de desasosiego. Aunque el personaje da la espalda al edificio, sus ojos se dirigen hacia los otros seis pares de ojos idénticos de las figuras que, desde las ventanas del edificio, observan cada uno de sus movimientos y agitan pañuelos blancos en señal de despedida. Remedios Varo escribía a cerca de este cuadro: “Esta mujer ha tomado la decisión de abandonar su casa, dejando todo detrás suyo. Pero siente que desde las ventanas la están espiando y no se siente libre de su pasado, más que esto se siente angustiada”. #remediosvaro #artist #art #artista #arte #surrealismo #surrealism www.remedios-varo.com
Una publicación compartida por Remedios Varo (@remediosvaromx) el
In the early 1960s, the artist often wrote to her psychoanalyst about her nightmares and her sense of guilt and shyness.
She was very focused on her mental processes, as shown in one of her best and most disturbing works, Mujer saliendo del psicoanalista (Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst), where a figure with several masks appears, which Varo mentions in a letter to her brother:
"This lady coming out of the psychoanalyst throwing her father's head into a well (as is right to do when coming out of the psychoanalyst). In the basket she carries other psychological waste: a clock, symbol of the fear of being late, etc. The doctor's name is Dr. FJA (Freud, Jung, Adler)."
Like much of Surrealism, she was interested in astrology, with paintings in which people are tied to the stars by ropes or threads - she even portrayed his psychoanalyst hanging from them. Varo also designed Tarot cards and developed some witchcraft practices embodying the role of the sorceress, together with her friend Leonora Carrington.
For example, in La llamada (The Call), the protagonist's hair is tied to the cosmos. References and allusions to alchemy, on the other hand, are also frequent. For her, Alchemia was a way of transcending, but she did it through painting. A journey.
As Octavio Paz said in that same article on Remedios Varo, her art is an "art of levitation."