WHO has not at one time or another been baffled or bewitched by Surrealist artworks, their often complex landscapes alive with strange beings and fantastical forms drenched in bold colours?
Do you remember the mesmerising melting fob watches of Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory, in that vast, still and empty dream-like scene?
Even the great Picasso tipped his hat to the surreal in his black and white painting Guernica, depicting the ugliness and chaos of war in a Surrealist style.
British Surrealism Unlocked: Works from the Sherwin Collection, runs at Kendal’s Abbot Hall Art Gallery from tomorrow (Friday) until June 21.
The exhibition is an inspirational journey through the astonishing imagery of one of art’s most enduring movements and comprises key British surrealist works from the extraordinary collection of Dr Jeffrey Sherwin, a GP by profession.
Surrealism was born in Paris in the 1920s but quickly spread far and wide to become an international phenomenon. While few of the surrealist artists in Britain reached the same level of fame as many of their counterparts across the English Channel, the images they created were every bit as powerful, mysterious and provocative, taking inspiration from the language of dreams and revolutionary politics, while rebelling against the tyranny of prevailing sexual, religious and social conventions.
The exhibition starts with the earliest British surrealist works from the 1920s and early 1930s, showing how the movement’s ideals were already manifesting themselves well before the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936, held in London, and attracting more than 1,000 visitors a day, exposed a wider public to the radical imagery of surrealism.
As the movement flourished its imagery became more powerful, political and intense in its unlocking of the imagination and throughout the rest of the 20th Century, and into the 21st, the all-pervading influence of surrealism can be found everywhere. The last section of the exhibition will be crammed full of paintings, drawings and constructions, reflecting Jeffrey Sherwin’s intuitive approach to collecting, and represented by a whole range of artists, including Desmond Morris, John Welson and Anthony Earnshaw.
To coincide with British Surrealism Unlocked, Picasso and Co: Sherwin Ceramics is on show at Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, Bowness, showcasing Jeffrey Sherwin’s stunning decorative arts collection.
Also tied into the exhibition is British Surrealism Opened Up, a new 156-page book by Jeffery Sherwin, described as an ‘everyman guide’ to British Surrealism.
Abbot Hall Art Gallery is open Monday-Saturday, 10.30am-5pm.