New Radicals: The Artists Redefining Surrealism For The 21st Century
The Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition at London’s Tate Modern is reframing one of art’s most radical movements. More than lobster telephones and melting clocks, Dalí and Magritte, surrealism is re-evaluated as an ever-expanding way of thinking that has inspired diverse art and politics across the globe for the past hundred years.
When poet André Breton published his Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, he outlined the core principle of surrealism as a ‘dictation of thought’, which existed beyond reason and outside of ‘all aesthetic and moral preoccupation’. In other words, surrealism broke all the rules. When it came to art, this meant bodies could bend in two, clocks could melt, forms could shift and play and nothing was ever quite what it seemed.
But surrealism was more than painting or sculpture, it was a way of remoulding the world. For many, this philosophy became political activism – a force more potently felt today than ever before. It is for this reason that surrealism has served as a connecting rod between different global cultures and found a foothold in art and thought from Paris to Peru, from 1924 to 2022. For what better manifestation is there of subverting the status quo, than a mindset which bends reality?
5 Modern Surrealist Artists To Have On Your Radar
- Ming Ying London-based Chinese artist Ying is just 27, but has already made an indelible impact on the art world. Her work is acidic in its brightness, and rendered in expressive brushstrokes that hide shifting forms beneath.
- Mary Reid Kelley Kelley often pairs up with her partner Patrick to create pieces that combine poetry, painting and performance, with trippy visuals that would make Dalí proud.
- Nathaniel Mary Quinn The Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based artist is known for his stunning, warped, collage portraits that play with the idea of memory and identity.
- Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail Quirky yet brimming with meaning; Ismail’s ceramic sculptures are pure surrealism – a lobster phone for a whole new generation.
- Nam Das The photo-realism of Das’ dream-like oil paintings make the Filipino artist’s work one of the most visually impressive examples of modern surrealism. Each piece is a puzzle to be explored.
Surrealism Beyond Borders runs at London’s Tate Modern until 29 August 2022. Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar