Born in Anglès in 1908, Remedios Varo moved to Paris in 1937 with her second husband, the French poet Benjamin Péret who would introduce her to the Surrealist circle. In Paris, Varo departed from academic painting, drawn to the study of the occult and alchemical mysticism as well as fairy tales, anthropology, astronomy, and Freudian psychoanalysis. Distinct to the artist’s painting technique was the use of inlays of mother-of-pearl, a material she claimed paved the path towards enlightenment. Having fled Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, she was again forced to flee from Paris during the Nazi occupation, immigrating to Mexico City in 1941. There, Varo forged close relationships with fellow European Surrealists, especially British painter Leonora Carrington and Hungarian photographer Kati Horna. Sharing a proclivity for witchcraft, alchemy, and the occult, together they would be known as the “three witches.” In Simpatía (La rabia del gato) (1955), human and animal appear as celestial projections tethered to a constellation that pricks the walls of an empty interior. Armonía (Autorretrato sugerente) (1956) shows a woman placing crystals onto a physicalised musical stave, aided by anthropomorphic figures that emerge from a nave-like studio’s peeling walls. These enigmatic paintings are example of Varo’s deployment of uncanny juxtapositions that serve to conjure ethereal atmospheres.
Note: the work La creación de las aves (1959, oil on masonite, Museo de Arte Moderno. INBAL-Secretería de Cultura) was exhibited until August 28th, 2022.