Thoughts On Contemporary Surrealism

Some Thoughts on Surrealist Art Today

If you were to sum up the surrealist movement in as few words as possible what would you say? What makes something surrealist?

Surrealism is any artifact that results from an artist’s best attempts at a literal display of their imagination in their medium of choice.

Who is your favorite surrealist artist, and why?

There are too many amazing surrealist artists, or artists that I would consider surreal. Many of them would disagree with this label. It’s also a bit like asking, “who is your favorite musician in the orchestra”?
You want to see the musicians playing in the context of their cohort. Classics would be Mark Ryden, or Beksinski.

I have a post from a few years ago that includes a bunch of artists many people would have never heard of: 17 Mind-Blowing Surreal Artists you Need to Follow on Instagram. I’ve only recently discovered Vincent Fink, Arabella Proffer, and many more, but I cannot pick just one.

What is the last dream you remember?

I dream that we will find the way out. I dream that portals are everywhere. I dream we find them every time we have the courage and the discipline to look.

What do you think is the best way to learn about the surrealist movement?

The internet. Don’t believe the official narrative from art history class is the gospel. It’s good to know, but it’s just one story. I’d also recommend looking for counter-narratives. Another region of the world will have an entirely different cohort canonized. Those artists are every bit as skilled and exciting. It seems the internet has just recently learned (again) about the Chicago Imagists, the Czech Surrealists, Egyptian Surrealists.

Declaring New York City, Paris, or Bejing, “the center of the art world” at any point in time, is boring and lazy. It’s the art historian’s flat earth society. It’s a load-bearing fiction. It may be where a concentration of money is at a point in time, but that doesn’t mean that’s where the interesting stories, art, or ideas are happening.

The dictionary of Obscure Sorrows has a definition for a word Sonder. I’d consider that a good way to think about this.

What is the scene like today/how does modern surrealism differ from its origins?

Many thousands more surrealists artists are now doing as good and better work than has ever been done. And many wouldn’t appreciate the label “surrealist” for any number of reasons.

There is no center of the movement today, no leadership or central ideology. There are just so many amazing artists making great things.


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