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Aesthetics of Liberation in Remedios Varo’s Works

성혜진 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This essay investigates the aesthetics of liberation presented in Remedios Varo(1908-1963)’s works. Being an artist who realized the surrealist spirit of liberation throughout her life, Remedios Varo displayed the theme in various aspects. She gave shape to her spirit of liberation upon her personal experiences of war and imprisonment, and of her practice in the institutionalized education system, while sharing the surrealist aesthetics of liberation. Surrealism began during the period between the First and the Second World War. It followed Dada’s spirit of challenging against established authorities, and pursued a revolution for the final goal of human liberation. Surrealists believed that it would be possible to realize a political revolution through art. They also tried to free themselves from reason by liberating irrational elements repressed within their subconscious. They revolted against the plastic hierarchy through methods that enabled the subconscious to manifest,such as autonomous writing and contingency. Such a spirit of liberation, along with her personal experiences, made Remedios Varo constantly pursue the world of liberation. Her inclination to the liberation from political repression was formed by her brother’s death during the Spanish Civil War, her confinement in 1940, and her lifelong experience as an exile. Apart from the political repressions by the wars, Varo also had to undergo yet another repression caused by her identity as a woman. The male surrealists tended to distort the female bodies in violent ways to gratify their male desire. The female surrealists denied the given roles and depicted themselves as subjective women. Varo also presented a confident model of woman to express her will to realize women’s desire without male perspective. Moreover, she did not only confine the liberation of women to sexual issue, but also displayed a critical consciousness to the gender role given to the women of her time. It was to subvert the conventional role imposed on women as housewives and mothers, as well as the traditional view of women that expected women to be passive and complaisant. Her experience of mysticism and alchemy after she settled herself in Mexico in 1949 was another factor that affected Varo, pushing her further to seek more metaphysical dimension in her works. Varo attempted liberation from all rules of physics by studying time space in the new dimension with creative people such as artists and travelers. Through the various aspects of Remedios Varo’s art practice, this essay examines her intent of attaining a world that is liberated from political repressions such as war, sexual restriction and conventional idea of gender upon women. As a woman who tried to free herself from various mechanisms that repressed her in the real world, Varo investigated the essence of human beings as a condition of liberation. Through her investigation, she discovered that the space of liberation was within humans themselves. This connects to the surrealist spirit that believed the human ability and exemplifies that Varo’s concept of liberation was not only on a personal dimension. In conclusion, it verifies that Varo’s attitude, which seeks a liberation that comes from a subjective experience, has sublimated itself to an aesthetic as well as to the artist’s view of art.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.