Troubadour © Estate of Remedios Varo.

unexpected journeys

Spanish painter (1908 - 1963).
Born 1908 in Angles, Spain.
Died 1963 in Mexico City.

Gallery | Prints

Childhood travels in Spain and North Africa with her father, a hydraulic engineer, sparked a lifelong interest in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and fantastic locomotor vehicles.

Attended convent schools and the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid; after a brief marriage to a fellow student, met and married the Surrealist poet Benjamin Peret in Barcelona where she had moved to become part of a more avant-garde milieu.

An early abortion, probaly necessitated by the economic realities of her life at the time, prevented Varo from becoming pregnant again.

Settled in Paris with Peret at the end of the Spanish Civil War and was active in Surrealist circles there between 1937 and 1939.

Forced to flee France for political reasons. In Novemebr 1941, after a long and difficult journey, the couple arrived in Mexico.

Prevented from travelling to New York with other Surrealist emigres because of Peret's leftist political affiliations and support for the Loyalist cause in Spain, the penniless couple had waited months in Casablanca because they didn't have the right papers.

Varo, remembering from her childhod trips to North Africa with her father that Moslem dead must be wrapped in white for their final meeting with God, had raised small sums of money for the voyage by selling the few white bed sheets she had been able to pack.

Finally, influential friends, working through Varian Frye's French Relief Committee in Marseilles, managed to secure steamer passage for the couple.

They arrived in Mexico with no money other than the small allowance paid to Spanish political exiles by the Mexican government, and settled in a decaying apartment building on Gabino Barreda, not far from the ancient Aztec center of Mexico City and near the more recent Monument to the Revolution.

Varo immediately began the wearying task of providing an income for the couple, an undertaking dictated by necessity, but one that would drain much time and energy from her own painting for the next ten years.

Peret's belief that Diego Rivera had sanctioned an early attempt on Trotsky's life by a group that included the Mexican painter David Siquieros inhibited contacts.

The couple joined an active group of expatriate painters and writers that included Leonora Carrington. A close relationship developed between Varo and Carrington, and together they created a new pictorial language more relevant to their own styles and requirements.

They became absorbed in mysticism, sharing dreams, stories, and magic potions, as well as using painting as a recording of life's journeys.

Varo remained in Mexico for the rest of her life.

During the early 1950s, Varo became involved with the followers of Gurdjieff, and with Tibetan Tantric and Zen Buddhism.

First one-woman exhibition in 1956 at the Galeria Diana in Mexico City; her retrospective at the Museo de Arte Moderno in 1971 drew the largest audiences in Mexican history.

Recommended Reading: Remedios Varo: The Mexican Years

print
Remedios Varo

exhibitions

Tokyo (1937), Paris (1938), Amsterdam (1938), Mexico City (1949), New York (1942), Paris (1947)

Recommended Reading: Surreal Friends - Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington and Kati Horna

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