Mexican legacy to surrealist art: meet Remedios Varo
Say the first name that comes to your mind when you think about a Mexican female surrealist artist. No, it is not Frida Kahlo. The name I want to present you with is Remedios Varo.
She was a prolific surrealist artist, compatriot to Kahlo, half Spanish — Mexican, born in 1908. She had studied fine arts in Madrid and moved to Paris due to the Spanish Civil War. In Paris, Remedios had been influenced by the surrealist movement and in 1941 was forcibly exiled to Mexico during the German Occupation in France — it was the beginning of World War II.
Despite of the wars she experienced during life, her artwork was not influenced by this subject. Instead, Remedios plumbed the depths of religion, mysticism and hermetic traditions, a characteristic that distinguished her from other surrealists, although she followed the structure of space, time and juxtaposition established by this art movement. She considered surrealism as “expressive resting place within the limits of Cubism, and as a way of communicating the incommunicable”.
She had a great belief in a mysterious world, and this perspective clearly influenced her art. As visual expression, she depicted allegorical elements, creating a unique relation among humans, animals, plants and mechanical world. Likewise, Varo also portrayed components of biology, chemistry, physics and botany, blending with other aspects of ordinary life.
Her work and visions were not only important for the art world, but for the presence and influence of a woman in an inhabited land for females. In fact, it was not her intention to shed light on gender discussion. However, unintentionally, she paved the way for women’s recognition in a traditional patriarchal society.
In 1963, Remedios Varo died of a heart attack, leaving around one thousand art pieces and no last will and testament. In 2000, a retrospective exposition was assembled at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC, to establish Varo’s legacy and highlight her great contribution to Surrealist movement.