Catalan Women Writers and Artists: Revisionist Views from a Feminist Space

By Kathryn A. Everly | Go to book overview

1
Mercè Rodoreda and Remedios Varo:
Exiled Daughters of Surrealism, Insightful
Mothers of Invention

It is clear, historically and sociologically, what women brought
to Surrealism, it remains to be asked what Surrealism brought
to women.

—Susan Rubin Suleiman, Subversive Intent

CATALAN NOVELIST MERCÈ RODOREDA AND CATALAN PAINTER REMEDIOS Varo both were forced into exile in order to escape the violence of the Spanish civil war. Consequently, themes of exile, longing, journey, and a search for identity permeate their works throughout their artistic careers. Similarly, both women suffered a silent exile within; for Rodoreda the violent stripping away of her maternal Catalan tongue left her without a literary voice, and for Varo a determined search to distance herself from surrealism’s dominating influence led her through various thematic and stylistic phases. Both women struggle with and eventually shed the restrictive adornments of surrealism’s ideology, which limited productive discourse for women in search of more authentic and profound feminine artistic identities. The recent unveiling of over eighty paintings, drawings, and watercolors by Mercè Rodoreda has revealed important connections between written and pictorial language indicative of women experimenting with various modes of artistic expression. Through both verbal and visual images, Rodoreda and Varo develop various artistic identities reflective of the swiftly changing midcentury sociopolitical scene moving from the height of the Catalan avant-garde, through the destruction of the Spanish civil war and into the deteriorating Franco regime of the 1960s and early 1970s.

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