Nocturnal Union: A View on the Surreal
“…(they) will point to the strange and disconcerting beauty of scribbles found on tempting walls, of objects found in unaccustomed places;...(they) will demonstrate the fantasies of nature and will ask everyone to admit the vividness of their dreams….(they) will oppose the conscious and the unconscious, the deed and the dream, truth and fable, reason and unreason, and out of these opposites he will in the dialectical process of his artistic activity create a new synthesis.”
From Herbert Read’s introduction to the First International Surrealist Exhibition Catalogue, 1936
Austin / Desmond fine Art is pleased to present Nocturnal Union, an exhibition which brings together the works of British surrealists together with contemporary artists whose works continue to capture the ‘fantasies of nature’ and the ‘vividness of their dreams’.
Central to the exhibition is a rare painting from 1936 by the British surrealist Roland Penrose, painted the same year as the First International Surrealist Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries in London. Penrose, together with David Gascoigne, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, and Ben Nicholson organized this show and as members of the Unit One movement, the 1936 exhibition confirmed these artists’ commitment to a different form of expression away from the main trend of English art at that time. A new confidence emerged within the group of surrealists following the huge success of the exhibition at the New Burlington, remembered not only as a landmark in the canon of contemporary art, but also as the moment in history which ultimately shattered Europe.
An early 1931 painting by Tristram Hillier - a key member of Unit One - titled La Maison L’Artiste is included and was exhibited in the first comprehensive survey of his work in 1983 at Bradford Art Galleries and Museums.
Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff are represented with five watercolours from 1938. Considered by Andre Breton as ‘the best and most truly Surrealist’ of any British artists they created some of the most important works of the day.
The works of these surrealist artists sit alongside works by six contemporary artists whose principles might lie in a different aesthetic but whose practice includes an element of continuity within the surrealist movement.
Two sculptures by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Untitled Gold Soft Shoe and Untitled Silver Soft Shoe sit well within the context of this show as does an unsettling kinetic sculpture by the German artist Gunter Weseler from his series Atemobjekte (breathing objects).
Also exhibited is a work by the influential Irish artist, Dorothy Cross from 1992 entitled Dishes comprising a number of enamel tableware and a cows teat. A bronze sculpture by Helen Chadwick, I Thee Wed from 1993 and a 1987 work on paper by Paula Rego are also on show.
An exhibition of Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff: A Tale of Mother’s Bones will open at the De La Warr Pavilion in Oct this year and will travel to the Camden Arts Centre in early 2019.