Remedios Varo

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Useless Science or the Alchemist, 1955

Remedios Varo Uranga (December 16 1908 - October 8, 1963) was a Spanish-Mexican, para-surrealist painter. She was born María de los Remedios Varo Uranga in Anglès, Girona, Spain in 1908. During the Spanish Civil War she fled to Paris where she was largely influenced by the surrealist movement. She met her husband, the French surrealist poet Benjamin Peret, in Barcelona. She was forced into exile from Paris during the Nazi occupation of France and moved to Mexico City at the end of 1941. She initially considered Mexico a temporary haven, but would remain in Latin America for the rest of her life. She had an early abortion due to the economic realities of her life. Due to the abortion, she could not become pregnant again.

In Mexico she met native artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Her strongest ties were to other exiles and expatriates, notably the English painter Leonora Carrington and her great love, the French pilot and adventurer, Jean Nicolle. Her last major relationship was with Walter Gruen, an Austrian who had endured concentration camps before escaping Europe. Gruen believed fiercely in Varo, and gave her the support that allowed her to fully concentrate on her painting.

After 1949 Varo developed her remarkable mature style, which remains beautifully enigmatic and instantly recognizable. She often worked in oil on masonite panels she prepared herself. Although her colors have the blended resonance of the oil medium, her brushwork often involved many fine strokes of paint laid closely together - a technique more reminiscent of egg tempera. She died at the height of her career from a heart-attack in Mexico City in 1963.

Her work continues to achieve successful retrospectives at major sites in Mexico and the United States.


[edit] Major influences

[edit] Artistic influences

The allegorical nature of much of Varo's work especially recalls the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, and some critics, such as Dean Swinford, have described her art as "postmodern allegory," much in the tradition of Irrealism.

Varo was also influenced by styles as diverse as those of Francisco Goya, El Greco, Picasso, and Braque. While André Breton was a formative influence in her understanding of Surrealism, some of her paintings bear an uncanny resemblance to the Surrealist creations of the modern Greek-born Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico.

In Mexico, she was influenced by pre-Columbian art.

Varo's painting The Lovers served as inspiration for some of the images used by Madonna in the music video for her 1995 single "Bedtime Story".

[edit] Philosophical influences

Varo was influenced by a wide range of mystic and hermetic traditions, both Western and non-Western. She turned with equal interest to the ideas of C. G. Jung as to the theories of G. I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, Helena Blavatsky, Meister Eckhart, and the Sufis, and was as fascinated with the legend of the Holy Grail as with sacred geometry, alchemy and the I-Ching. She saw in each of these an avenue to self-knowledge and the transformation of consciousness.

[edit] Selected list of works

  • 1925 El Tejido de los Sueños
  • 1942 Gruta Magica
  • 1947 Paludismo (Libélula)
  • 1947 El Hombre de la Guadaña (Muerte en el Mercado)
Exploration of the Source of the Orinoco River, 1959.

[edit] See also

[edit] Sources

[edit] External links

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