• Charmaine Crasto

Unleash the unconscious: Surrealism


Pop Surrealism

Everything but normal, is what best portrays Surrealism, an artistic movement that creates shrill, implausible elucidations dedicated to uncaging the thoughts and expressions of the perplexed mind. Coming to surface during the period where nonsense triumphed reason, Surrealism stemmed out of Dadaism – an early 20th century ingenious European art movement. Familiar yet foreign, artwork shaped from the Surrealist mold is eloquent and earthly, but at the same time exceptionally obnoxious, a true representation of what’s stored within the unconscious mind.

An unorthodox artistic movement like Surrealism is bound to have a non-conformist founder, and that is what brings us to Andre Brenton. At first an aficionado of Dadaism, Andre Brenton was a renowned French poet and writer. However, it was only post the First World War that Brenton detected his reformed outlook on life which bred his experimentation with something compelling known as, Automatic writing. Rather than tearing apart and exposing existing morals via Dadaism, in an attempt to achieve social change, Brenton believed that this could come even more quickly through what he described as Surrealistic Automatism.

The key to understanding what Surrealism actually is lies in decoding Andre Brenton's motion, Automatism. Cutting to the point, Automatism is when an artistic creator, be it a writer, designer or a painter, forks over total authority to the unconscious mind during the creative process, allowing chance and coincidence to emerge as the heroes of the ultimate illustration by side-lining the logic and intentions of the conscious mind. And this is what birthed Surrealism, a movement that negated normal and believed in liberating the imagination.

The publication of Andre Brenton’s ‘The Surrealist Manifesto’ in the year 1924 is what brought Surrealism into the open. As Brenton was a poet and writer, the movement initially began as a literary crusade. However, it was the non-conformist approach that attracted other creative artists as it gave them an escape from rationalism, allowing them to express their true psyche. The path followed by the Surrealist was maneuvered in accordance with the beliefs of Sigmund Freud, expressed through his then published psycho-analytic research, highlighting the structure of dreams. And it is the Surrealist that amalgamated the existing reality with dreams formulating a ‘sur-reality’, the base of the Surrealism movement that exists even today.



More widespread and evident by the 1930s, Surrealism continued to enroot and flourish in the public eye, which gave it the required gravitas to establish the London International Surrealist Exhibition, Britain in 1936. And this is what was considered the apex of the Surrealist movement, giving it world recognition.

The recognition received by the Surrealism movement under the preeminent leadership of Andre Brenton allowed it to flourish and expand post his death even playing a role in influencing 20th Century American art and the artistic creations of acclaimed artists such as Jackson Pollock and his drip paintings, Joan Miro’s ‘The Tilled Field’, Rene Magritte’s use of common objects in unfamiliar surroundings in a ploy to play against reality, Dorothea Tanning’s paintings expressing surreal erotic dreams and nightmares and many more.

Surrealism, prominent even today, is not just about artists and their art, it’s rather about the coalition of the tangible reality one lives in and their artistic voyages in an attempt to create an alternate, more acceptable reality. Today, Surrealism is not just limited to the world of art and design. Once you truly understand what the movement stands for, you come to the realization that Surrealism is something you practice in your everyday life and understand how it influences your daily output. Well, believe it or not, there's probably no day that goes by where you do not find yourself wishing something happened the other way round instead of the way it did. And that is exactly what Sur-reality is, a mixture of curiosity and sometimes shock!

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