Summer seems to be over, with a dramatic drop in temperature, to what is considered normal most of the year round in these parts.
Surrealism started as a literary and political movement in 1924 but became known for the dreamlike, bizarre works of a number of painters based mostly in Paris. Max Ernst was one of its first successful painters, who developed from the Dada movement a number of experimental painting techniques to reveal his own unconscious responses. The The Robing of the Bride (1940) depicts a strange marital ceremony, with a bride dressed in a long, orange birdlike gown and her husband as a more sinister dark grey bird. The brides eyes are of two different colours, perhaps signifying that she was in two minds.
Giorgio de Chirico inspired a number of other surrealist painters with his dreamlike scenes. The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street (1914) is a seemingly quiet, ordinary evening scene. The unusually steep perspective of the row of arched shops creates an unsettling feeling. The silhouetted girl, innocently spinning a hoop seems to be heading for potential danger as a shadowed figure emerges from behind a darkened building.
Paul Delvaux was one of those influenced by de Chirico’s work, producing numerous nightmare scenes. Sleeping Venus (1944) shows a peaceful sleeper in a large dark space, surrounded by old buildings and nightmarish figures.
Salvador Dali is one of the great surrealist artists. His Theatro Museo Dali in Figueras is a wild and entertaining collection of his work. One of his most enigmatic paintings is The Persistence of Memory (1931) created in his native Catalonia on a beach in the setting sun. The melting clocks challenge concepts of time and reality, in a sparse landscape.
René Magritte is also widely recognised and some say he is the most famous Belgian. His scenes of apparent normality with bizarre elements, painted in a very realistic, often understated way, emphasise the truly surreal nature of his subjects. One of his most subtle works is Empire of Light (1954) in which a distant streetlight burns brightly in a patch of night under a daylight sky.
The Spanish artist Remedios Varo emigrated from the turmoil of Europe in 1941 to live in Mexico. There, along with her close friend the British artist Leonora Carrington, she studied alchemy and other mystical traditions. Her paintings - such as Tiforal (1947) - often depict women in dreamlike settings.