Monday, January 16, 2012

The Surrealist Remedios Varo

Remedios Varo is an incredible painter I have long admired and often wondered why she hasn't received more attention in art history and elsewhere. Could it be sexism?...  Nah...
 In addition to Leonora Carrington and Frida Kahlo she is one of the most engaging and astounding women surrealists. Born in Spain in 1908, she fled to Paris during the Spanish Civil War. During the Nazi occupation of France she then fled to Mexico City - where she remained for the rest of her life. She was close friends with Carrington, studied with Salvador Dali, and in Mexico she became acquainted with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. She died at 55 from a stress-related heart attack.

Currently at Frey Norris Gallery in San Francisco is a rare chance to see a few of her original works - paintings, sketches and drawings. They have a mystical, dream-like quality with scientific and spiritual allegories. Up close, her brushstrokes are tiny, many even seemed like scratch marks through the paint to the board below. Pictured here are a few pics from the exhibit - mostly cropped to share some detail. The show is up through Feb. 25th, 2012.

" The first exhibition of Remedios Varo to ever take place in the western United States, Indelible Fables illuminates the ever-imaginative and prescient world of this surrealist artist." - Frey Norris

(Frey also recently had a great exhibit of Carrington's works)...

Francesca Woodman at SF Moma

Francesca Woodman committed suicide at the age of 22 in 1981. Her works are obviously that of a still-young photographer and it is sad that we will never see what caliber of imagery she could have produced, had she lived a "normal" life. And sadly, I wonder if she would have had a show of this magnitude at a major museum, if she hadn't committed suicide.

This huge exhibition contains all black and white prints, rather on the small side, mostly centered on the female human form, nudes - many set-up shots of her own body. Long exposures, vintage dresses, montages, blurred movements and stark, lonely abandoned rooms. Some stuck me as obvious student shots, amatuer in their subject matter and composition, not really museum quality. However, others were extraordinarily powerful, speaking of a woman's despair - about self doubts, body image, sexuality and isolation. These pieces are strong feminist rejections and obsessions of the male induced beauty image. Many are accompanied by hand written captions and commentary from Francesca which lead us to ponder the damage done by stereotyping, media and advertising.

The show at SF Moma is up through February 20, 2012 and we strongly recommend this powerful and haunting exhibition.