Translating Magic: Remedios Varo’s Visual Language
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Remedios Varo was fascinated by esoteric subject matter. Her studies included alchemy, Russian mysticism, Tarot, and the occult. While her paintings frequently depict a scientist, explorer, or some magical figure in a meticulously rendered setting there is a deeper understanding to be gained though examining what Varo studied and how she used specific iconography and references in her work. Varo created her own personal symbolic language, which, once learned, allows the viewer to read her paintings. Each chapter of this thesis aims to dissect an aspect of Varo’s work, or a source of inspiration for her work, in an effort to translate Varo’s personal visual language. After the first introductory chapter, the second chapter will look at the symbol of the mountain and its incorporation into Varo’s oeuvre. The third chapter discusses Varo’s attachment to Hieronymus Bosch and the influence his work had on her. The fourth chapter uses the Tarot, and its iconography, as well as the Surrealist’s interpretation of the Tarot and examines where certain visual cues can be seen in her work. Finally, the fifth chapter investigates Varo’s life in Mexico and how other artists in exile with her shaped her practice stylistically as well as addressing the aesthetic of her most recognized later work and how it reflects the various studies she amassed throughout her life. This study situates Varo’s paintings in relation to her personal hermetic visual language.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- The Mountain -- Bosch and an alchemical introduction -- Tarot -- Transformation in Mexico