If I say, ‘Gimme the name of a Surrealist artist!’ what’s the first one that comes mind? I’d bet the majority of people would state Salvador Dalí! This week’s Gal-lery is going to introduce another Spanish-born Surrealist, however, by the name of Remedios Varo.
Ever since discovering her artwork during my college years, I’ve been an ardent fan of Varo, who was born in 1908 in Anglès, Spain. Her father’s work as an engineer required the family to travel frequently during Varo’s childhood. Patriarch Don Rodrigo encouraged his daughter’s creativity by taking her to museums. That interest culminated in her enrollment at La Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando at the age of 15.
In an EXTREMELY condensed nutshell, Varos developed as an artist during a a volatile period in Europe. Despite its stance of neutrality, Spain experienced difficulty during World War I (1914-18). Trouble continued during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and World War II (1939-45): many people with the necessary means fled their country, often seeking asylum across the Atlantic Ocean.
By 1940, Varos was living the artist’s life in Paris, France. However, the Nazis were invading everywhere possible, so she moved back to Spain with her eventual husband (and French surrealist) Benjamin Péret, although, due to the restless political climate in her home county, in the end they sought refuge in Mexico City, Mexico. While Péret eventually moved back to Paris, Varos spent the rest of her days in Central America, ultimately shuffling off the mortal coil at 55. Despite her short life, she was able to beautifully incorporate the customs, ideas and visual imagery she discovered in her new home, in addition to Eastern concepts and philosophies and her Catholic upbringing, into her artwork.
Varo’s artwork itself speaks to me on a deep and complicated level that I can’t truly put into words— this is simply how I experience certain artists— in addition to being utterly entrancing to gaze upon. There is a longing otherworldliness to the dreamy, intimate scenes she’s created, and that doesn’t scratch the surface of how her work makes me feel. She was keen on exploring concepts like self-enlightenment, alchemy, sacred geometry, and the Holy Grail, but the symbology and representation of her paintings aren’t in any way blatant or trite, and while her work is highly detailed, it’s so refreshing and subtle that it’s far from pedantic.
Remedios Varo, by Norma Muñoz. Accessed August 27th, 2015.
RemediosVaro.org. Accessed August 27th, 2015.
What era or area of art and design would you like to see represented here? Do you have a particular artist or designer whom you positively admire? Let us know in the comments below!