Remedios Varo

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There have been very few artists who have managed to take their art to the ultimate level of meshing it in between reality and dreams, Remedios Varo falls into this category. Not only did Varo accomplish this task magnificently she was also able to shift the role of females in paintings from mere muse or object to the main lead. In Varo’s art the female character was the heroine, the explorer, enchantress and creator. Varo’s aim on highlighting the female characteristic stemmed from the disdain she felt when she saw other paintings where the female was just another piece in the painting, for her the female was a powerful figure. The Mexican –Spanish artists is one of the most famous para-surrealist painters of the 20th century. Varo’s uniqueness as an artist was due to her unusual liberal upbringing, her love for philosophy and her very creative mind. She was also heavily influenced by mystical traditions, linear angles and geometry.

She was born as Maria de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga in 1908 in Angles, Spain. Varo’s father played an instrumental role in her artistic development, he raised her daughter to think freely as a person and not be bound by traditional values. He even taught her to develop a love for reading which drove her imagination to new heights.  Part of what made Varo a rebel was the fierce independent streak she developed due to her father’s teachings. One of Varo’s earliest paintings is that of her grandmother – another key figure in her upbringing. The painting is also named after her, Dona Maria and features an angelic looking woman, Varo managed to capture the essence of her grandmother vividly in the painting. There is just a face and nothing else but with the face Varo is able to tell many different tales. From the light blue of her eyes which exude gentleness and calmness to her deep facial lines – there is love in every angle of her face. The viewer can clearly see how strong the connection was in between both women. Varo moved to Paris where she was introduced to the world of Surrealism. Varo’s paintings stand out because her influence and inspiration was vastly different from any other normal painter. She was deeply inspired by alchemy, magic and the writings of Gurdjieff, a Russian mystic. There is a deep mysticism associated with Varo’s paintings and she usually opted for light dull colors.

Varo’s famous work The Lovers, almost confuses the viewer. The painting is set in yellow with dull brown and black sketches. It features two faces in two mirrors which makes the viewer think that one image is a reflection of another as both faces are quite similar down to the mole on the left cheek. The painting is almost scientific in nature and was the main inspiration behind Madonna’s 1995 video Bedtime Story. Some of Varo’s work was even described as disturbing by some art lovers, certain features of her paintings were rigged in distorted half-human, half-mystical creatures. As in The Creation of Birds, there is clearly what seems like a woman figure, but the only weird thing is the woman’s featured have been meshed with that of an owl. She has feathers on her face and is holding a paintbrush which has been extended from a violin hung from where her heart should have been. As strange as her paintings were, Remedios Varo was an artist who had too much depth and knowledge about life.

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