By Selana Vronti
The term “surreal” is currently used on an almost daily basis to describe all that is irrational, abnormal and unorthodox in contemporary Greek society.
“Approaching Surrealism,” an exhibition running at the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation’s Museum of Contemporary Art on the Cycladic island of Andros until September 30, showcases artworks and archival material connected to the namesake 20th-century art movement --and provides local viewers with a welcome change from the surreality of their day-to-day lives amid the economic crisis.
Surrealism emerged in the aftermath of World War I, as a reaction against bourgeois ideals and practices. While the movement left its greatest mark in the visual arts, at the time it was above all a literary revolution based on the idea of automatic writing and spontaneity. The movement was founded in 1920s Paris by a group of doctors and artists led by its undisputed leader Andre Breton.
The Surrealists pushed the boundaries of imagination through the notion of the subconscious, the soul and dreams. While various artists were incorporated into the movement at the very beginning, a series of conflicts and disagreements led to a number of departures later on.
The art movement, which in theory came to an end following Breton’s death in 1966, was tied to psychoanalysis, anarchism, Marxism, Eastern philosophies and anthropology.
On Andros the exhibition is divided into two sections. The first part comprises works by a number of the movement’s leading representatives, including Man Ray, Giorgio de Chirico, Marcel Duchamp, Andre Masson, Joan Miro, Wifredo Lam, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy, Jean Arp, Paul Delvaux, Francis Picabia and Max Ernst, as well as the latter’s wife, Dorothea Tanning.
In an attempt to link the international art movement to its Greek counterpart, the second part of the exhibition highlights the work of Andreas Embeirikos, Odysseas Elytis, Nanos Valaoritis and Nikos Engonopoulos, among other local artists. Embeirikos, who introduced the idea of Surrealism to the Greek public during a lecture in 1935, hosted an exhibition of Surrealist works at his residence the following year.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Hora, Andros, tel 22820.22444. For more information, visit www.moca-andros.gr.