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"In Wonderland"

"Frida and Diego Rivera" by Frida Kahlo
Kahlo portrays herself as miniature alongside her "greater" husband Diego Rivera 

Sometimes we see an art exhibition that makes us vividly aware of the creative process.  Looking at the art reminds us of the exhilarating human experience of creativity.  The artists have not only created astonishing art work, but the theme of their art is creativity.  This was my experience when I saw the art exhibition "In Wonderland:  The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and The United States" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

If you would you like to meet some extraordinary women who boldly explored their dreams and subconscious through their art, then this is an exhibition you should not miss.  This groundbreaking exhibition of surrealist art by women in Mexico and The United States is the first of its kind.  It brings iconic works from well-known artists such as Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington and Louise Bourgeois together with those of lesser known female artists, all of whom used the tenets of Surrealism to explore identity, creativity, gender, and personal narrative.  Two characteristics of this show that stand out are fearlessness and enlightenment.      

"The Lady Magician" by Sylvia Fein

The essays in the catalogue that accompany this exhibition explain why it is groundbreaking.  The surrealist movement in art is mostly identified with male writers and artists, such as Andre Breton, Man Ray and Salvador Dali. These men often cast women in their paintings and books in secondary roles.  Women  functioned primarily as symbols and objects of desire and inspiration, simply there to satisfy male fantasies.  They were looked upon as muses rather than independent beings.  

The exhibition at LACMA offers a fresh new look at Surrealism, through the eyes of women.  Their art is an expression of their search for self-knowledge and realization.  They delve into their own subconscious and dreams for their subject matter.  They allow themselves to be transformed by the creative process and to create works that reflect the mystical and magical act of creativity.   These women surrealists made important contributions to the surrealist movement and because they were practicing in North America (as opposed to Europe where most of the male surrealist artists were) they found the freedom to produce important art that made a difference.  The time frame of the art in this show is from the 1930's to the 1960's.

"Europa" by Juanita Guccione
This painting combines imagery from a battlefield and a cemetery

The art works are honest and brave creations that convey messages about life as a woman.  I went to this show last week with a friend and haven't been able to stop thinking about it.  The images are compelling and take the viewer on a journey into the dreams and psychological worlds of some introspective and independent women artists. These women were obviously passionate about exploring issues beyond the domestic realm and allowed their minds to get in touch with their subconscious.  This exhibition will give you insights into the imaginations of some fascinating and unconventional women.  Their art is filled with dream-like and personal imagery, and make us aware of how rich and powerful the creative experience can be. 

"Self-Portrait (with Landscape)" by Helen Lundeberg

In some of these works, the artist's creative life merges into her being.  For example, Remedio Varo's  painting "Creation of the Birds" shows a woman painting an image of birds and turning into a bird herself.  Really, it is fantastic to see!   Worlds of imagination and creativity meld into the bodies of women in the paintings to produce some very compelling visual art.  These images are haunting and arresting.

"Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird" by Frida Kahlo

"My Dress Hangs There" by Frida Kahlo

"Celestial Pablum" by Remedios Varo
This woman seems to be turning stardust into food to feed the moon, suggesting ideas about cosmic powers and creation

"Self-Portrait," also known as "Alice in Wonderland" by Alice Rahon
Alice Rahon was a French-born surrealist artist who was inspired by pre-historic and Pre-Columbian culture and artifacts.  She moved from Paris to Mexico City.

"The Escape" by Remedios Varo

"Mimesis" by Remedios Varo

"The Chess Queens" by Muriel Streeter
This made me think of "Alice in Wonderland," a book that is referenced by some of the artists

"Creation of the Birds" by Remedios Varo
 The artist has become a bird as she paints an image of a bird.   Everything is interwoven here and seems to be expressing the artist's immersion into her art.

"Harmony" by Remedios Varo
   This painting seems to suggest the hallucinatory quality of creation

At the end of the exhibition is a wall that contains photos and biographies of all the artists in the show.  This continuous biography of the artists was fascinating to see.

The American writer May Sarton wrote about the creative process,
 "It always comes back to the same necessity:  go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard." 
These women surrealists went deep into their imaginative world and produced some startling and fascinating art.

The first five photos via here

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