Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams

“I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality.”

With a touch of idealism, a pinch of naivety and a dash of hope, Andre Breton in the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, outlined his intentions to transform the world through art.  Faced with mass slaughter, and left disillusioned, this post-world war one movement rejected the political, religious and economic systems which western society was founded upon. These systems were seen through post-war eyes as corrupt, tainted by their lack of resistance to and what appeared to be their participation in mass slaughter. Thought itself was seen as a pivotal and possibly revolutionary force for the transformation of human experience. Breton sought to end “the reign of logic” and investigate the unconscious, irrational aspects of the human mind,  as he saw this untapped resource as uncorrupted and thus capable of transforming reality. 

Taking up Freudian techniques, these artists tried to record their dreams and semi-conscious states; tapping into the realms of the unconscious mind. These investigations produced many weird and wonderful combinations, such as Man Ray's  Sewing Machine and Umbrella, 1920 or Andre Massons's automatic drawings where the artist rapidly scribbles a stream of subconscious thought without lifting pen from paper.  These works were  created without the intention of logical comprehensibility,  with artists attempting to cause a  crisis in consciousness, a type of shock therapy, where the rational mind alone could no longer be used to make sense of the world.

The intensity of the Surrealists and the remarkable works they produced have gained the group international recognition and acclaim being considered today as one of the most important and experimental movements of the 20th century.  These works, usually held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, are now on loan at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane and available to the Australian public. The exhibition boasts an incredible 150 works from 56 artists including a wide range of paintings, sculptures and films by some of the most prestigious surrealists. From Salvador Dali, to Rene Magritte, Max Ernst and Man Ray all the key figures are present and accounted for. Explored through Surrealism’s founder and key theorist André Breton, the viewer is taken through the historical evolution of this cultural movement which is clearly signposted and accessible to all ages. Not to be missed this landmark exhibition is only open until the 2nd October and satisfies the appetite of even the most fervent art lover.