Nine times out of ten, artists get magic wrong. Either they display the powers of Heaven and Earth as a bunch of wispy light, or they make it overly physical, with fairies and demons represented as chubby humanoids with bird’s feet or what have you. Few find that sweet spot where it’s both and neither, where flesh is a conduit for shadow and circumstance.
Remedios Varo, however, got magic right. The Spanish painter, who fell in with André Breton’s Surrealist movement, had an incredible talent for illustrating the active veil between the visible and hidden worlds. Physical structures are membranous without being fleshy, humans are ethereal but not airy, curses and blessings hum with vibrant life rather than dark power.
Varo the clichés of the supernatural and turned them on their heads, thus creating a world that is notably bizarre but strangely livable. Her paintings are populated with anatomical horrors and inspiring spirits that all seem to live in the same neighborhood, across the street from each other. You know the place that Varo shows you, if only from the dreams born out of your deepest sleep.