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The Art Story Homepage Artists Remedios Varo

Remedios Varo

Spanish-Mexican Painter and Sculptor

Remedios Varo Photo

Born: December 16, 1908 - Anglès, Girona, Spain

Died: October 8, 1963 - Mexico City, Mexico

"I do not wish to talk about myself because I hold very deeply the belief that what is important is the work, not the person."

Remedios Varo Signature

Summary of Remedios Varo

The visionary lone painter, Remedios Varo, typically portrays herself sitting at a desk engaged in magical work, embarking on a journey to unlock true meaning, or dissolving completely into the environment that surrounds her. As a well-studied alchemist, seeker, and naturalist, however dreamlike her imagery may appear, it is in fact reality observed more clearly; Varo painted deep, intuitive, and multi-sensory pictures in hope to inspire learning and promote better individual balance in an interconnected universe. Interestingly, and understandably, it was not until the last 13 years of the artist's life, having fled war-torn Europe, found home in Mexico (amongst a community of other displaced Surrealists) and finally become free of ongoing financial constraints that she was able to paint prolifically. Every work completed by Varo demonstrates profound technical skill and an extraordinary insight into human nature.

Key Ideas

Although an avid believer in the inter-relatedness of all things and people, including the inter-weave of sound, light and image, her paintings are not typically populated by multiple figures. Instead we are usually introduced to an isolated creaturely hybrid thinker/artist character, reminiscent of St. Jerome in his study or a wise crone wandering in search of new discoveries.
Varo repeatedly situates mystical machines in her pictures. Whilst in most cases such industrial looking devices function to make products that can be touched, held, and made use of, Varo's structures are here to process that which we cannot see. As our emotions and psychological lives are intangible and invisible, it is useful to investigate them within some kind of known parameters, i.e. within a previously encountered system. Therefore, such apparatus, however made strange, help us to communicate what would be otherwise unspeakable ideas.
Varo surrounded herself by a group of likeminded women (with Leonora Carrington and Kati Horna in particular) also interested in alchemy and the occult. Together, these women - sometimes referred to as 'the three witches' - placed full attention on achieving a higher spiritual life, recognizing that such divine power would then in turn be transmuted more widely throughout the cosmos. They were sensitive to a shared ancestral/evolutionary feminine consciousness and felt determined to free women from repressive patriarchal hierarchies, often illustrated in the work of Varo by repeated motifs of the cage and the tower. Imbued at once with a natural and cultivated understanding of opposites and union, Varo and her friends transformed relatively small and domestic experiences into colossal and universal ideas.
Remedios Varo Photo

Remedios Varo was born María de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga in the small town of Anglès, located in the province of Girona in Spain. Her father, Rodrigo Varo y Zajalvo, was a hydraulic engineer, whose work often necessitated moving his family throughout Spain and North Africa. This disruption had a profound effect on Varo, and, as if longing for 'home', she kept a childhood postcard of Anglès all her life.

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