Friday, August 14, 2009

Classic Surrealism

Yesterday I went to the 'Surreal Things' exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario and was so impressed by their collection that I couldn't really take it all in (I have to go back). I find surreal work hard to go through quickly as it confuses my mind in such a beautiful way.

As I delve deeper into the Art World and develop my personal tastes, I see that I have a strong affinity for all things early-20th-Century. My passion for the works of Mucha, Klimt, Freud, Tamara de Lempicka, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali and Picasso (yes, Picasso. I never thought I could like him, but he's really growing on me. He is a fascinating artist. More on him later) just keep growing stronger.

I've always loved these artists, but I never thought about their relationship to me and to each other until relatively recently.

The juxtaposition of what appears to be opposites fascinates me; for example, moderately tattooed women wearing haute couture and carrying Louis Vuitton bags, hookers painted with the skill and precision of Rembrandt (refer to this), class vs. vulgar, dirty vs. clean. Juxtaposition makes what appears to be things that are separate seem one, and emphasizes that one point of view cannot exist without the other.

The Classic Surrealists were the first to make the conscious choice and the resulting cultural movement of the ultimate juxtaposition: reality vs. fantasy.

What is Classic Surrealism? Classic Surrealism is the cultural movement of Dali, Andre Breton and Max Ernst (to name a few). It is the original movement where dreams and the happenings of the deep psyche were articulated in art, literature, film, etc. The classical surrealists are the originators of the ultimate juxtaposition and constantly questioned reality. Yesterday I was looking at Dali's 'Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach' (1938) and got lost in it's complexity.

What is going on in the painting?! There's a dog, several fruit dishes, mountains . . . These seemingly random elements fused together to make a coherent work is what makes this work surreal. Surreal art stuns the viewer by the weirdness of it all. It's looking into a someone else's dream and trying to make sense of Them within the context of You. If you look deeply, perhaps you can grasp some meaning, but I don't believe it's necessary. The feeling one gets from looking at a work such as this is an overwhelming mix of emotion and confusion that most people either really like it, or really hate it.

I love it, and you can really see the origins and the thought process behind the modern surrealism movement.

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