Saturday, November 1, 2008

ART REVIEWS by Bridgitte Montgomery

By Artist Bridgitte Montomgery

Many Blacks were Mentioned at the Getty’s Symposium Vivismo Muerto: Debates on Surrealism in Latin American
By Bridgitte Montgomery

The Getty Museum’s long awaited two day symposium Vivisimo Muerto: Debates on Surrealism in Latin America was launched on Friday June 25, 2010 and ended the following Saturday evening. Organized for a full year, scholars came from top universities and museums from around the world. I was amazed at the effort that was made to include Black Surrealist artist, poets, and cultural theorist from the West Indies. Some members of the group Negritude were also mentioned mainly poet Aime Cesaire from Martinique; and the cultural theorist, writer, and politician, Senegalese born Martinican, Leopold Sedar Senghor. Biracial, Cuban born Surrealist/Cubist Wilfredo Lam was also mentioned. Also surprisingly, this symposium was not focused on Surrealist Freda Kahlo, but only periodically mention her and artist Diego Rivera’s paintings.
Titles included, Wolfgang Paalens Mesoamerican Collections and Writings and the “New” World. Circa 1940-45 by speaker Amy H. Winter who was from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum. In the 1930’s, Wolfgang Paalen (1905-1959) painted visionary art on canvas and became an international artist. He was also a writer and a theorist. Before leaving France, Paalen, with Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, and Man Ray, they were responsible for the design of the International Exhibition of Surrealism in the Palais des Beaux Arts in Paris 1938. He was originally born in Vienna and later lived in France and Mexico. When Surrealist artist Freda Kahlo (1907-1954) invited him to come to Mexico in the late 1903s, he moved there and stayed. Paalen was inspired by Mexican art but in a non “folkloric” way. Also, with Peruvian poet Cesar Moro they curated a major exhibition in Mexico, The International Surrealist Exhibition in the 1940s Galeria de Arte Mex. Wolfgang Paalen took his own life in 1959
My favorite session was session II of day one. The title was The Surrealist Love Letters: The Art and Poetry of César Moro (1903– 1956) The Peruvian born poet and painter who’s real name was Alfredo Quíspez Asín moved from Mexico to Paris in 1925. Most of his poems were written in French. In a love letter, through a word alchemy construction, he made his lover a god. To paraphrase the poet (I was writing really fast) he said, between waiting and silence, all wars of love are waged. The dead on truth in a poetic form!
Lastly, on day two and session III was titled, The Surrealism Effect: Legacies and Receptions in Art, Literature, and Politics many of the speakers mentioned Andre Breton (1896 -1966) and his visit to Hattie in 1947. Breton was a French writer, poet, and theorist. He is best known as the principal founder of Surrealism. He wrote the Surrealist Manifesto. He praised the Black culture and the Surrealist artist in Haitie. The Surrealist Exhibition was in 1945 at the Rex Theatre in Port au Prince. Being that in 1941, Surrealist Andre Breton, Wifredo Lam, and Claude Lévi-Strauss accompanied by many others, left for Martinique and were imprisoned there, I was happily taken back by the fact that André Breton returned to the islands in 1947 to visit to Haitie. Breton praised the Black culture. He thought that Amire Cesaire (1913-2008) was the greatest poet and Cesaire paved the way for Breton‘s visit. At the time, some Black poets used French and Creole alternatively as a subversive technique. While using French, they would add a Creole word in unexpectedly. The artist expected that Bretons message would be on freedom. Breton spoke of the lack of knowledge of our own power. He said that liberation would come through nature. Breton thought that Black culture would be the future of the world. Breton had a large African art collection and he noted that Africans and African art were the Surrealist original inspiration creatively. In his mind, Blacks in general were closer to that original inspiration. Breton liked the spiritual freedom and the liberty of spirit in Haitie. He wanted to know more about the Haitian Vodou. The French pronunciation is vodu and the Anglicized is Voodoo. Speaker Matias Ayala from Universidad Alberto Hurtado and others noted that at this special time, Surrealism related to politics in a way that was very powerful and helped change the history of the island. The speakers also mentioned Black revolutionary poet Paul Laraque,(1920 2007; Black writer, Pierre Mabille (1904-1952). He was also a surgeon, sociologist, art critic, and active Surrealist. He was also the French cultural attaché in Haiti. As a Surrealist, his book was titled, is Le Miroir du merveilleux; Lastly, Black poet Rene Belance was born in 1915 in Corail Haiti and was known for his collection of poetry, Rythme de mon Coeur (1940); followed by Luminaires (1941); and a war poem in many sections (1943). He was classified as a Surrealist because he published the book Luminaires;
In an effort to further inform Breton on Vodou, Brazilian sculpture, poet, and printer Maria Martins wrote a book on the subject. The Biracial, Cuban born Surrealist/Cubist Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982) and Breton collaborated on the publication of Breton's poem Fata Morgana. The book was illustrated by Lam. Lam was also mentioned in Andre Bretons book, Surrealism on Freedom.
An joy rises up in me when I learn even one sentence more about the advancements of the Black Diaspora. The next relevant program is titled, Surrealism and the Americas at Rice University, November 4-6, 2010
I made a Logo Today. What Fun!
Prescription for Inspiration 1# To the Wire 2# Reasons

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