I think painter Remedios Varo has a critical reputation that’s definitely behind her. Varo is often held to be less well-known than her fellow Catalonian sister Rufina Cerruti, whose exhibitions I think more important, but the painter’s works are more numerous and extend way beyond her homeland. But why is Varo so underrated?
I saw this painting of her for the first time here at the impressionist Salon in Corsica. It was a new development in the Spanish tradition of the Old Masters and reflected the attractions of bringing tradition into the modern world. And I could see the one again in the giant mirror that casts a palely beautiful image of the sea against the mountains of Corsica, and the earth-tone clothes worn on the beach.
The painting is called Floria Oliva, and I think it’s perfect for a flower-child sea-voyager. It’s sensual, sensual and just like the real woman I saw there. But it’s an open question as to whether or not the water turning black in the lower depths of the painting is a local ingredient.
I know there have been other paintings attributed to her, in which the water is described as turning from white to dark. Yet to my eyes it is not, by itself, a flaw, but a single brushstroke by a skilled painter. It’s a painting that is about going from a different period to another in art, but more noticeably about casting itself in the culture of the milieu it is part of.