Remedios Varo’s storied life began in 1908 when she was born in Spain. She fled the Spanish Civil War and headed to Paris to further her artistry in Surrealism. The surrealist movement was strong there and she honed her skills along with painters who received more notoriety.
The Nazi occupation of France forced Varo into exile. She made it out safe and in 1941 arrived in Mexico City where she remained the remainder of her life. She befriended famous artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera while in Mexico. During the 1950’s Remedios Varo further developed her remarkable and unique style. Her most popular medium was oil on masonite panels which she prepared herself. Varo’s brushwork involved repeated fine strokes of paint laid in close proximity to each other.
Remedios Varo’s artistic influences included the work of Hieronymus Bosch. Critics have described her painting as “postmodern allegory” and in the tradition of Irrealism. She was also influenced by styles in other realms including Picasso, Francisco Goya, El Greco, and Braque. Andre Breton was a formative influence in Varo’s understanding of Surrealism. Further artistic influence can be seen in her paintings of the modern Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico. While in Mexico, Varo became influenced by the primitive art ancient Columbian culture. Her painting titled “The Lovers” has served as an inspiration for images used by Madonna in the music video for her 1996 single “Bedtime Story”.
Philosophically, Varo was influenced by a many mystic traditions of both Eastern and Western society. She studied the ideas of G. I. Gurdjieff, C. G. Jung, Ouspensky, Sufis, H. Blavatsky, and Meister Eckhart. The legend of the Holy Grail fascinated Varo along with sacred geometry and alchemy. She believed that through each of these there was a path self-enlightenment and the transformation of consciousness.
Remedios Varo died at the height of her career in 1961. Her art continues to achieve successful retrospectives today. Her popularity has picked up in recent years especially in North America where art connoisseurs discover her mastery. (bio)