2021-09-24 23:08:26 Overlooked No More: Remedios Varo, Spanish Painter of Magic, Mysticism and Science
Overlooked No More: Remedios Varo, Spanish Painter of Magic, Mysticism and Science
Varo, who was well into her forties at the time, had her breakthrough with a group exhibition in 1955, which featured paintings dealing with the subconscious, the mystical, and the metaphysical; in many of them, the protagonist resembled Varo.
In an interview, Arcq stated that she was interested in tarot, astrology, and alchemy, which she balanced with a lifelong love of science, particularly geology. Varo’s work combined these passions.
“She was attempting to find the nexus between the mystical and the scientific,” Arcq explained.
In Varo’s painting “Harmony” (1956), a man or woman sits at a desk in a large room, threading objects such as crystals, plants, geometric figures, and paper scraps of mathematical formulas onto a musical staff that resembles an abacus or a loom. Figures that resemble muses appear to be emerging from the walls. Varo wrote in a note to her family, “this person is trying to find the invisible thread that connects all things.”
She was living with Walter Gruen, an exiled Austrian who owned a popular classical music record shop at the time. He believed in Varo’s talent and encouraged her to devote herself entirely to painting.
In 1956, Varo had her first major solo exhibition in Mexico City. It was well received by critics and collectors alike, including the renowned Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who was quoted as saying that Varo was “among the most important women artists in the world.” Her second solo show, which took place in 1962, was also a success.
Varo died on October 8, 1963, of a heart attack. She was 54 years old. Gruen became a tireless supporter of her work and legacy, and a posthumous retrospective at Mexico’s Museum of Modern Art drew large crowds in 1971.
Varo’s work has risen in value in recent years, thanks in part to its scarcity, high quality, and striking imagery.
“It has a magical effect,” said Norris. “Her work has a radiance and a lightness to it, much like a great Renaissance painting.”