gouache, ink and graphite on paper
Gift from the artist
Remedios Varo, Mexico City
Sale: Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., Modern Mexican Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture & Prints, May 25, 1977, lot 55, illustrated
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Compositionally, works from this time period share certain characteristics; there is a sense of floating in an unidentifiable space which is enhanced by placing objects, miniature landscapes and people upside down or in circular arrangements devoid of a ground line. Iconographic elements are shared as well, a particularly important symbol being a horse (sometimes a dog) tethered to a tree, that also serves as its tail. This twisted and bound creature, certainly a metaphor of her own psychological distress, appears here and in the 1942 painting La dame oval, as well as in an untitled etching from circa 1942 reproduced in the surrealist journal VVV that same year.
Carrington had a facility for backwards writing, perhaps due to her dyslexia, and since childhood she had equated it with feminine transgression and witchcraft. Scribbled in a disjunctive fashion throughout this drawing are incantatory sentences in mirror-writing meant to ward off loss, separation and pain. They serve as a touching testimony to her desperate attempt to control a life thrown tragically off-kilter by the noxious effects of World War II. Other works from this time period feature similar kinds of writing, such as Tiburón (circa 1942), Horoscope (1943) and Brothers and sisters have I none (1942). All abound with symbols of transit, flight and transformation, anxious responses to war-time fears of the future. Although this drawing is deeply personal in content, it also poignantly speaks to all who, in an attempt to maintain mental stability in times of cataclysmic change, have sought solace in ordering and charms.
Susan Aberth, New York, 2006
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