Malba opens its 2020 exhibition calendar with an anthology exhibition of Remedios Varo (Anglès, Spain 1908 – Mexico City, Mexico 1963). She is a central figure in Latin American surrealism and fantastic art and an essential reference in Mexico’s mid-20th-century art scene as a member of an extraordinary group of exiled artists and intellectuals.
The works are chronologically presented from 1938 to 1963 with a special focus on the works created as of 1942, when the artist moved to Mexico. On view are 35 paintings, 11 drawings, and 60 sketches. Also included is a rich body of documentation from Varo´s personal archive: jottings in notebooks, drawings, fantastic tales and other writings; correspondence with artists and intellectuals from the era, such as Leonora Carrington, Kati Horna, Eva Sulzer, Benjamin Péret, Óscar Domínguez, César Moro, Edward James, Gunther Gerzso, and Octavio Paz. Together with personal photographs and objects, the exhibit goes beyond showing her work, also offering insight into the artist’s remarkable life.
Born in Catalonia, Spain, Remedios Varo reached professional maturity in the middle of the 20th century, when living as an exile in Mexico City. As a visual artist she had formed part of the Catalonian and Parisian Surrealist movements of the 1930s; yet in her Mexican period she abandoned automatism and started working in a highly controlled manner: first sketching and minutely drawing out her ideas, elaborating these in a complex process towards realizing her paintings. This process will be highlighted in the exhibition.
Although Remedios Varo is predominantly known for her dream-like paintings and drawings, she was a multi-faceted artist of great sensitivity. Traditionally educated at the Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, she studied the laws of perspective in depth, something she had started learning from her father, a hydraulic engineer. Both in her thinking and in her work, the natural sciences –botany and zoology– are clearly present. She put these skills into practice, when participating in an entomological expedition in Venezuela, for example, or working on advertising campaigns of pharmaceutical company Bayer.
She was also interested in cosmogony, alchemy, music, and the occult sciences, such as magic and astrology, which she studied passionately. Like the Pre-Raphaelites, she sought connections between romantic poetry and painting, and her own paintings are dominated by symbolism and the phantasmagorical.
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