I visited an amazing exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester last Saturday, which is running until the 12th of September. I definitely recommend a visit if you're in the area. It's entitled Surreal Friends in Mexico and shows the work of close friends, Leonora Carrington, Ramedios Vara and Kati Homa. Three women Surrealist artists who met in Mexico City in 1943, after fleeing the war in Europe. Carrington having eloped to Paris, the heart of the Surrealist art world at the time, with artist Max Ernst. It was here that she met and befriended artists Salvador Dali, Andre Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso.
I'd vaguely come across Leonora Carrington's work when flicking through Phaidon's, The 20th Century Artbook. You know the little pocket book that lists about five hundred artists in alphabetical order and shows an image of their work and a mini biography? Carrington's work was a was a self-portrait, The Inn of the Dawn Horse. I remember the image but I can't say that it made very much of an impression on me. If you'd mentioned the name Carrington, the work of Dora Carrington would have sprung to mind. Leonora often being described as a muse rather than a serious artist. That is until last Saturday. When I was introduced to much more of her work.
Carrington who is still living in Mexico appears to be an articulate and vibrant women and apparently the most famous living artist in Mexico. You can watch a recent Guardian interview and here and link to an Independent interview that makes biblical and Renaissance references to her work which is said to have Celtic and mythical inspiration.
I think one of the things that attracted me most to the group of artists was the description in the text put up in the exhibition. It paints a wonderful illustration of the three women who it says "would spend hours in their kitchens discussing the links between cookery and the alchemy, between magic and art and between mythology and reality. Buddhism and Kabbalah, witch's nluals and sacred ceremonies, Greek myths, Gothic literature and science fiction; the more esoteric, the more likely it was to capture their imaginations. Edward James said that Carrington's work was not so much painted as brewed."