It’s hard to overstate the influence the Surrealists have had on art as we know it today. Proving the magic and power of this 20th century bunch of visual artists, poets and literary figures is an exhibition at the Olivier Malingue in Mayfair, London, which presents the works all the big names – think Hans Arp, Salvador Dalí, Óscar Domínguez, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Victor Brauner, René Magritte and Yves Tanguy – but crucially showing their works “in dialogue” with one another.
The works were all created between 1923 and the early 1960s, reflecting not only painstakingly deliberate visual weirdnesses of the group but also the theoretical doctrines that underpinned the works and the artists’ collective worldview, which according to the gallery was guided by a principle in which they understood the canvas to be “a window into another reality, a space to free one’s unconscious.” The agenda was outlined in Andre Breton’s 1924 Surrealist manifesto, which itself has its origins in Sigmund Freud’s “analysis of the unconscious and the realm of dreams and this reverberated in the works created by the group members,” the gallery says.
The idea of creating a “dialogue” between the works is to show the various stages at which those artists were involved in Breton’s core group of Surrealists, as well as “their eagerness to unravel the concepts of reality on canvas.”
Olivier Malingue says: “To arrange them in dialogue in this way allows the works to speak not just to each other but to the viewer, highlighting the theories of collective thought inherent in the Surrealist movement – which is, to me, key to grasping the continuing relevance of this groundbreaking cultural movement.”
The show, titled Surrealism: A Conversation, showcases the links and collaborations between various disciplines - visual art, poetry and literature – through displaying a selection of Cadavre Exquis (Exquisite Corpse) hames, where different artists drew a single section of a body before folding the paper to conceal their work and handing it to the next artist to fill in the following section.
Surrealism: A Conversation runs until 12 May 2018 at Olivier Malingue, 1st Floor, 143 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2TP .