Why the Soul of Surrealism is in India

Lee Krasner “Nude Study from Life”, 1938. ©2013 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/ Artists Right Society (ARS), New York. The Menil Collection, Houston, gift of William J. Hill, in honour of Christopher de Menil. Courtesy of The Menil Collection, Houston.
Lee Krasner
“Nude Study from Life”, 1938.
©2013 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/ Artists Right Society (ARS), New York.
The Menil Collection, Houston, gift of William J. Hill, in honour of Christopher de Menil.
Courtesy of The Menil Collection, Houston.

If all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players, then where do the Surrealists sit?

According to my imagined global map of where art movements should be located, the Impressionists are based in the South of France, the Blaue Reiter in Germany, the Nabis in Stockholm, Cubism in Iceland, the Old Masters (da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, etc.) in Italy, Aestheticism in Decorative Arts in Shanghai, Digital Art in Oslo, and Lyrical Abstraction in Tokyo.

Of course, this is entirely subjective, but I think that certain countries, or cities, really do go hand in hand with the style or ideals that various art movements represent.

In my opinion, Surrealism would be well represented by some small artistic or spiritual commune in India. The theory of Surrealist Automatic Drawing alone represents this to near perfection. The idea is that the drawing comes from allowing your hand to move at random across the page, leaving the image free of logical or rational thought processes, and allowing chance to play a large part in the final result. Another part of the thinking behind this is that, without the logical part of your brain being used, the subconscious also affects the final result – thereby allowing a hidden part of the psyche to be revealed.

“The real functioning of thought”: André Breton (the founder of Surrealism) pinpointed the expression of this as the ultimate aim of Surrealism. So, yes, in my eyes, a spiritual commune in India is the perfect base location for all budding Surrealists. Namaste.

Why the Soul of Surrealism is in India
Left:
Ajanta Caves.
Maharashtra, before 2nd century BCE.
India.
Right:
Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple).
Amritsar, Punjab, 1585-1604.
India.

If you are interested in Surrealism, but a journey to India seems a little far (or far-fetched), the Menil Collection, Houston, is the perfect alternative. Currently hosting the exhibition Late Surrealism, you have until August 25th to get to grips with your subconscious, and those of the artists represented. If you’d prefer to do so in the privacy of your own home, grab a copy of Nathalia Brodskaïa’s Surrealism!

– Fiona Torsch

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