Art,  Inspirations,  Lifestyle,  Painting

Remedios Varo, Surrealist Painter + Dream Weaver

Jardin del Amor-Remedios Varo
Jardin del Amor

Early years~

the labrador 1958

Influenced by a wide range of mystic and hermetic traditions,

Varo turned 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. She was as fascinated with the legend of the Holy Grail as with sacred geometry, alchemy and the I-Ching, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism.

She saw in each of these people, groups and religions a many differing philosophies and thought that were an avenue to self-knowledge and the transformation of consciousness. She said:

Cat and Violin

Early History

A native of Angles, Spain, Remedios Varo grew up in an artistic family that expected academic and artistic aspirations. Her father, an hydraulic engineer, encouraged her interest in science and taught her how to draft images, a skill she used throughout her painting life. At the young age of 15, she enrolled in the renowned fine arts academy of San Fernando in Madrid, also attended by budding surrealist, Salvador Dalí.

Perhaps she was inspired by Dali’s work? 
Better still, perhaps Dali by hers.

The Catcher

André Breton, writer and artist, was said to be the “founder” of the surrealist movement in France, said:

Source of the Orinoco River

A Conflicted Past

Varo’s rigorous academic training formed the backbone of an artistic career marked by innovation and creativity but frequently interrupted by conflict. The Spanish Civil War forced her to flee Barcelona for Paris, where she apprenticed among the surrealists’ inner circle, was accepted by them and thus, exhibited her work widely.

She married and lived a bohemian lifestyle, avoiding the simmering conflict by frequent moves, but finally all was abruptly ended with the impending war. She lost a beloved brother who, as a soldier, had died suddenly of typhoid fever.

When World War II broke out, she left Europe for Mexico, which became her adoptive home and, in the last 10 years of her life, she produced the bulk of her work.

Mexico, with its pre-Columbian cultures, primitive art, exuberant color and abundant hospitality provided Varo broad artistic freedom and an exciting context in which to practice surrealist rebellion.

Hardship and Conflicts

Varo’s first few years in exile were marked by economic hardship and emotional isolation:

“We are finally installed here… suffering from the 2,400 meters altitude…dead with fatigue and having heart ailments.”

Away from her familiar circle, she struggled to secure what Virginia Woolf once identified as…

Basic requirements for an artistic career ~
‘a woman must have money and a room of her own’

Virginia Woolf “A Room of One’s Own”

Blue Wrap

Expat Ties

Her strongest ties were to other exiles and expats, notably English artist Leonora Carrington, with whom she developed a close relationship and created a new magical, pictorial language.

The Hearing Trumpet

leonora carrington
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

Varo’s remarkable style remains enigmatic and instantly recognizable.

madness of cats-remedios varo
madness of cats

Style of Painting

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 was a slow and meticulous artist, a perfectionist, sometimes taking years to finish a painting, much to the dismay of her patrons.

Varo Artwork

Sadly, she died at the height of her career from a heart attack in Mexico City in 1963

Artist REMEDIOS VARO shortly before her death.

Varo’s Gifts as Artist

“…as if she paints with her gaze rather than her hands, Remedios clears the canvas and over it’s transparent surface she gathers simple truths…”

Mexican poet Octavio Paz

Upon her death, her friend and confidante exclaimed:

Surrealism claims totally the work of The Enchantress too soon gone!

Red Woman
Fern Cats – My Favorite!


      • Mary

        Today we finally had rain, only about 5 1/2″ so far this year – such a drought. So we’ve had about 1/4″ and hoping for at least another inch. The roses I’ll bet are all happy with the rain – will check on them later. Amazing to me every bush we pulled are all sprouting, but I can’t let them come up with the Rosetta and all or they’ll infect my good bushes. Hope you are able to take some pictures of your beautiful roses this year – looking forward to seeing them.

        • ĽAdelaide

          How sad it must be–and frustrating–to lose your roses to rosette. I do hope it doesn’t infect the soil too! Frankly I’ve been depressed so not many photos captured yet. My new camera is too complicated too! Or maybe I’m just too lazy…

          Anyway I’m sure when this pain subsides I’ll feel more creative. Much love to you. Hoping we get a wee bit of rain tonight but it will do little for our drought. There’s no snow pack, CA’s primary water source. With only a few weeks left for our rainy season, it’s bleak.


    • ĽAdelaide

      I think she was a wonderfully talented artist who went way too soon. There’s so much more to her than this too, should you ever feel like looking her up. Rather a misfit but somehow she made it work. 😉

  • Clanmother

    A most excellent post!!! I want to find out more about this amazing artist. Thank you for the introduction.

    My thoughts are with you. <3

  • susancrow

    It appears that seeing Remedios Varo’s paintings again are just what I needed to see this evening. Her vision was extraordinary, reminding me in some ways of William Blake in these soulful images. I like Dali well enough but for me these images are much more spiritually powerful.

    I hope the crippling hand pain you’ve been suffering eases soon. I know for a fact you must be frustrated not to be able to handle your own brushes.

    Nevertheless, it was brilliant of you to show Varo’s work again and I thank you for it.

    ps: I think my own favorite is ‘The Catcher’. There are so many amazing and dreamlike swift beings moving around the painting it makes me dizzy to look at for long, but I keep returning.

    • ĽAdelaide

      Susan, I think we share the same heart at times! I enjoyed so much seeing your recent painting again. She has always been one of my favorites. I’m glad you enjoyed Varo again. I have a rich collection of oldies from my first blog. Makes times like this easier to keep up the “illusory me”!

      Actually I think I miss holding my trowel as much this time of year and I feel I’m racing a losing battle against impending heat before I’m ready with my transplants! Ah well…. Deep sigh. I do that and close my eyes a lot as I rock in my courtyard rocker. I’ve not even taken photos…. Times they are a’changin’ perhaps. Yet the morning may always bring a new reality! xoxox

  • Mel

    It’s dizzying, trying to put the pieces of the picture within a picture within a picture. I’ll have to investigate and see more. Most artwork I know of, everyone knows of. Even those I know so little of as human beings. That’s why these snippets are good things. Me getting stretched to learn more is a very good thing. So thank you for that.

    Sounds like a frustrating time for you. Makes me sad to hear of the struggle, yaknow? People want different things for you, I certainly do. Sucks that it is what it is right now for you. I’m going to hope for a quick transformation of the cirrcumstances. And I hope for rain.
    And peace. I always wish for you….peace.

    • ĽAdelaide

      Dearest mel, I always wish the same for you. I’ve hoped those storms missed you that I saw this morning were looming …… Again! It’s just terrible! I have nothing to complain about! 😉 the sun gentle shines here.

      I’m happy you enjoyed my offerings. She intrigues me as does Carrington but doubtful I’ll get to her just now. 😉

  • Sean Jeating

    [Once again, dropping by via Susan]
    Thanks for that. Very fascinating. And a pleasure for my eyes. Last not least the Frida-Kahlo-quotation gave me a big smile. Many artists seemingly need other artists they can disgust . . .
    As for your hands: I wish I were a magician.

    • ĽAdelaide

      Hi and welcome Sean!
      I adore dear Susan and am glad you ventured over! I hope you enjoyed my small post. My hands are upset just now so am not being too creative yet cannot stop! Horrors! It’s an addiction!

      Please come back soon! 🙂

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