jueves, abril 25, 2024

Centennial of Leonora Carrington


Photos and article by Sabrina Lear

April in Los Cabos is best known for Easter Week—Semana Santa—with celebrations beginning on Good Friday, the 14th. Thousands of families arrive from the mainland, while many local families head to their ranches or to camp out on East Cape beaches. It’s the Mexican PG13 version of Spring Break. For those wishing to attend Easter Sunday Catholic Mass services, the Cabo San Lucas Catholic Church is at Cabo San Lucas and Zapata, half a block down behind Plaza Amelia Wilkes. In San José, find the Iglesia de San José at Zaragoza and Hidalgo, across from the main square. Both hold Mass in English at 12 noon. This April also marks the centennial of British-born Mexican Leonora Carrington (April 6, 1917-2011), the renowned Surrealist artist and author. A permanent exhibition of 15 bronze sculptures and 50 screens depicting her life and paintings is on display along the Puerto Los Cabos marina in San José del Cabo. Her works are interspersed with biographical details and family photographs from sons Pablo and Gabriel Weisz Carrington. Longtime friend and promoter, Isaac Masri, curated the exhibition. Eccentric and rebellious from an early age, Carrington balked at the expectations of her wealthy and privileged family. The year before she attended art school in London, her mother gifted her Herbert Read’s 1936 book on Surrealism, its cover featuring a Max Ernst work. Once in London, Leonora eventually met Ernst, 18 years her senior. Falling passionately in love, the pair went to Paris where she would meet André Breton, Picasso and other Surrealists including the Spanish- born painter Remedios Varo, who became a close friend and collaborator until Varo’s death in 1963. By 1940, the German-born Ernst was under arrest in Vichy France and Carrington, devastated, fled to Spain, soon hospitalized following a nervous breakdown. After recovering, she entered into a marriage of convenience with the Mexican poet-writer, Renato Leduc (at the time a diplomat), gaining Mexican nationality. The couple escaped Europe to New York, settling in Mexico in 1943 and divorcing soon after. Carrington would later wed Hungarian photographer, Emeris “Chiki” Weisz, with whom she had her sons. Carrington’s close friendships in Mexico included Frida Kahlo, her longtime patron Edward James, and émigrés Remedios Varo, Kati Horna and Elena Poniatowska, all whom had fled the war to Mexico. One of her best-known works is the 6.5′ x 14’ El Mundo Mágico de los Mayas mural, commissioned in 1963 by the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City, which holds a prominent spot in its Mundo Maya exhibition hall. To research the Mayans, Carrington traveled to Chiapas, working with the Swiss anthropologist Gertrude Blom. In the 1970’s Carrington became a prominent figure in Mexico’s Women’s Liberation Movement and in 2000, Great Britain awarded her the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Posthumously, in 2014, her monumental painting The Giantess sold for close to $1.5 million US at Christie’s. In 2015, she received a “Google Doodle” posthumously commemorating her 98th birthday. Featuring her 1998 painting, How Doth the Little Crocodile, it became the famed Cocodrilo sculpture installed in 2000 on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. Upon Carrington’s death in 2011 at age 94, her longtime friend, the Mexican poet Homero Aridjis said, “She was the last great living surrealist, she was a living legend.” The National Arts Council added, “She created mythical worlds in which magical beings and animals occupy the main stage, in which cobras merge with goats and blind crows become trees… These were some of the images that sprang from a mind obsessed with portraying a reality that transcends what can be seen.” Carrington disagreed with Surrealism’s founder, André Breton, who labeled México “surreal,” declaring that it was instead a “mythological” place. After almost 70 years in her adopted country, her protest speaks to Mexico’s magical realism, so embodied in her art.

There are things that are not sayable. That’s why we have art. – Leonora Carrington


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