Inspiration 103: Surrealists

Originally Published: June 4, 2017

Fishmint by Caren Kinne

Fishmint by Caren Kinne

This third installment of art inspiration is brought to you by the Surrealists.
If you look up the word surreal in the dictionary or thesaurus you will find associations like: beyond real, strange, bizarre, fantasy, nonsense and dreamlike. In art-speak, the surrealists were a group of artists, writers, musicians and thinkers who established what would become the Surrealism movement in the arts beginning in the 1920s.
How interesting it must have been to sit down with this collective in the Parisian cafés they would frequent to discuss their philosophies on life and art; or to play with them in their drawing game “Exquisite Corpse” (interesting name, I know. More on that later). The foundational thought process behind the Surrealist movement was that of connecting with one’s own unconscious. Freud’s theories of psychology were very prominent at the time and there are many connections between Freudian theory and the Surrealist’s process. There are two main branches, so to speak, of Surrealism. The first deals with autonomy. Think of it as free writing…. Listing words or making marks without much conscious thought, so that the inner subconscious can come forth in its truest form. The other section, if you will, is more related to the dreamlike, or unusual juxtaposition of objects. I consider Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte’s work to fit more with the latter. They are also two of the most well known surrealists, and for good reason: their work is still captivating to this day. If you visit my archive (here) you may pick up a direct correlation between my own work and the dream surrealists. My paintings Bicycle Vending Machine and Fishmint, among others, were part of a series I did that looked directly into this concept of pairing everyday objects and images together in unordinary ways. While the Surrealists often sought for answers from their subconscious however, in my series I was more focused on pairing similar shapes, adding a touch of whimsy, humor and a dash of nostalgia. I think what I love most about surrealist art however, is their fearless approach to imagination. Their creativity held no bounds. A lobster phone? A sunlit sky over a dark-as-night street?  An image that quite appears to be raining men (and no I am not talking about the 80’s pop song).
Of course to look at these they make no sense- and that’s the strange and wonderful point!
The surrealists were able to create magical, impossible worlds. While I no longer work on my juxtaposition series, my current musings and portrait work does still have the influence of creating harmonious, otherworldly figures and images. Much of my work has an underlying hint toward a joyful utopia. And sometimes we all do just need to escape for a little while.

So Here are TWO fun Surrealist Escapes for you to enjoy right now!

#1) Destino
If you have not yet seen this short video collaboration between Salvador Dali and the one and only Walt Disney you are missing out. Check out the video here

#2) Remember I mentioned that crazy sounding game the surrealists used to play called "Exquisite Corpse"? Grab some friends, family, or co-workers and have some fun:

- Get out a sheet of paper and pen
- Fold the paper so that there are the same number of sections as there are people playing.
- The first person begins a drawing in their section and extends the lines just over into the next section of the fold. When done, fold back your completed section so that only the little extension lines show in the next section of the paper.
- Pass the paper on to the next person to add to the drawing starting with the lines where the person before you left off.
-Continue the above drawing, folding and passing steps until you are back with the first person.
- Unfold the paper so all can see the crazy silly fun Surrealist drawing you all made!

Warning: you may laugh reallllly hard!

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