Participating artists: Alma Berrow, Bea Bonafini, Leonora Carrington, Harriet Gillett, Ariane Hughes, Tali Lennox, Paula Rego, Nooka Shepherd, Paula Turmina, Sophie von Hellermann and Georg Wilson.
LAMB Gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition Surrealism and Witchcraft. Running from 16 November - 20 December 2023, the group exhibition investigates the resonance of the witch figure in art history through the works of 11 female artists inspired by Surrealism. The works span from the beginnings of the movement to the present, particularly highlighting the witch's feminist significance through pieces that ironically unravel the Freudian symbolism of these broom-riding women.
In the first half of the 20th century, when the post-war world was a chaotic blend of progress and loss, advances in medicine and psychology fostered a re-evaluation of the relationship between the mind and the body. In this conflicting context of devastation and development, André Breton and Sigmund Freud spearheaded a new philosophy, in which dreams and reality would resolve into a kind of new absolute truth. Rooted in the same exploration of the subconscious and experimentation with the irrational, Surrealism was born and remains popular today. Although the movement has since been largely male dominated, women have long employed its practices to liberate the creative potential of their subconscious minds, with Mexico an early hive of female Surrealists including Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo and more. Often drawing on the figure of the witch, the magical entity gradually became a vehicle for women artists to release the depth of their dreams and explore ideas of gender and sexuality.
In this vein, Leonora Carrington's series of witch hats (c. 1955) is exhibited as a key departure point for the exhibition. The five gouaches were found within one of the portfolios of Leonor Fini, fellow Surrealist and Carrington's longtime friend, at the time of her death. Born out of Fini's 1952 commission to design a set of otherworldly hats in Paris, she enlisted Carrington as a collaborator and the project was to result in a joint show. Although the show was sadly never realised, the series of witch hats serves as a testament of both the close friendship between the two artists and their shared fascination with witchcraft.
Blending pre-existing works from other canonical voices like the late Paula Rego's with new works from emerging artists, Surrealism and Witchcraft provides a compelling overview of how manifestations of the witch have evolved. Inviting viewers into their mystical world, the show comprises new commissions and highlights the ongoing reinvigoration of the witch through unseen pieces by Sophie von Hellermann and many more.
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