A Primary Exhibition Materializes Surrealist Artist Remedios Varo’s Alchemical Visions — Colossal



#artwork historical past
#Remedios Varo

September 15, 2023

Grace Ebert

an owl like woman sits at a desk and creates birds

“Creación de las aves (Advent of the Birds)” (1957), Museo de Arte Moderno, INBAL/Secretaría de Cultura. Picture via Rodrigo Chapa. All pictures © 2023 Remedios Varo, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid, courtesy of the Artwork Institute of Chicago, shared with permission

Alchemy and the depths of the occult manifest inside Remedios Varo’s follow. The Spanish surrealist (1908-1963), whose works are on view on the Artwork Institute of Chicago, was once a researcher at middle with an unlimited, insatiable interest for locating the unseen and underrecognized. All for medical disciplines like astronomy and ecology in conjunction with psychology, tarot, and feminism, Varo was once intent on increasing the boundaries of human belief. “I intentionally got down to make a paranormal paintings, within the sense of showing a thriller, or higher, of expressing it thru tactics that don’t at all times correspond to the logical order, however to an intuitive, divinatory, and irrational order,” she’s quoted as announcing.

Born María de los Remedios Alicia y Rodriga Varo y Uranga in Catalonia, the artist was once a herbal polymath, having taken a formative years hobby in her father’s paintings as a hydraulic engineer whilst studying the sci-fi novels of French writer Jules Verne. Her early reviews and want to be informed knowledgeable what turned into her inventive follow and ushered her front into Surrealism. After a couple of years of dwelling and dealing in Paris, Varo, like lots of her contemporaries, fled Europe sooner than Global Struggle II and relocated to Mexico Town, the place she lived till she had a middle assault and died at age 54.


two figures appear to emerge from the walls in a room where another sitter puts objects on a musical staff

“Armonía (Team spirit)” (1956)

In Science Fictions, greater than 60 of Varo’s art work, sketches, and sculptures are on view at a U.S. museum for the primary time in 23 years. The enthralling works proof the artist’s esoteric affinities and are rife with surprising magic. “Advent of the Birds,” for instance, facilities on a hybrid, owl-like persona who seems to color winged creatures which can be dropped at lifestyles via a stellar beam. In a similar way, “Needless Science, or The Alchemist,” depicts a cloaked determine turning a crank that powers a towering equipment of gears and pulleys, generating a faded inexperienced liquid on the base.

Whilst Varo’s material is regularly rooted in experimentation and discovery, so was once her bodily making procedure. She tended to supply cartoons, or full-scale preparatory drawings, that she would switch to a panel or canvas. Those renderings introduced structural strengthen to her extra capricious tactics like blotting, scraping, and decalcomania, which comes to urgent a painted subject matter towards every other floor in order that each are quickly joined via a layer of rainy paint. This creates natural, biomorphic planes when pulled aside. The huge amount of textures provides to the cosmic, enthralling qualities of Varo’s works, which she produced layer via layer, every now and then embedding herbal fabrics like mother-of-pearl inside the compositions.


a woman sits at a table with her cat, both of their hair is orange and spiked. a constellation hovers overhead

“Simpatía (L. a. rabia del gato) (Sympathia)” (1955)

Despite the fact that lesser identified within the U.S., the artist is well-established in Latin The us. Varo is a part of a trio of artists dubbed “the 3 witches,” in conjunction with Leonora Carrington and photographer Kati Horna, and was once lively in Surrealist circles in Mexico. “Varo has been respected as a cult determine because the Fifties, her attract stemming from the enigmatic nature of her paintings, each relating to its material and methodology,” mentioned curator and artwork historian Tere Arcq, who helped prepare the exhibition with Artwork Institute curator Caitlin Haskell. Offered in partnership with Museo de Arte Moderno, Science Fictions is extensively lauded for spotting and increasing get admission to to Varo’s contributions to artwork historical past, either one of which might be lengthy past due.

Given her enduring seek for transcendence and transformation, would Varo have regarded as the works of art themselves an act of alchemy? “That’s a captivating query,” Haskell says. “She was once undoubtedly studying about alchemy, as we all know from her library, and she or he was once now not by myself a few of the artists in her circle to be excited about analogies between artwork making and alchemy. In a metaphorical sense, sure.”

Remedios Varo: Science Fictions is on view thru November 27.


a black and white patterned floor envelops a figure sitting at a wheel with a castle like construction in the background

“Ciencia inútil, o El alquimista (Needless Science, or The Alchemist)” (1955), Museo de Arte Moderno, INBAL / Secretaría de Cultura.

a hybrid figure with an owl like face and a moonlit window on the right

Element of “Creación de las aves (Advent of the Birds)” (1957)

Two people rest on a furry ship that appears to ride a yellow cloud up toward a cliff peak

“L. a. huida (The Get away)” (1961), Museo de Arte Moderno, INBAL/Secretaría de Cultura. Picture via Rodrigo Chapa

a woman emerges from the wall to put objects on a staff with a figure on the lower left

Element of “Armonía (Team spirit)” (1956)

a constellation underlies a red bull like creature with horns and a face

“Tauro (Taurus)” (1962), Museo de Arte Moderno, INBAL/Secretaría de Cultura. Picture via Rodrigo Chapa

#artwork historical past
#Remedios Varo


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