Surreal In The Here And Now

I found myself in the Tate Modern the other day, preparing to take in the Dorothea Tanning exhibition. For those of you who don’t know Dorothea’s work, she was a surrealist painter, who married Max Ernst. She was born in rural America in 1910, moved to New York in 1930, discovered the freedom surrealist expression gave her and followed that path for her 70 year career, eventually dying in 2012 aged 101. Over time her work changed and adapted to new approaches, mediums and so on but she remained true to the surrealist love. It was small but lovingly curated and fascinating.

I often think of life as having a surreal tinge to it – not necessarily of the sort Dorothea’s work expressed with her occasional pin sized head added to a foot or a vagina housed in an armpit – but in her fascination with what might be behind numerous doors, or how we can experience moments in a sort of corrupted scale.

I stood in the queue for a coffee and cake, processing what I had seen. A couple of women in front of me were talking about the exhibition. They were probably my age, sensible haircuts and shoes, nothing frivolous in their dress. The subject of their discussion was a room Dorothea made, a very unexceptional room save for the various body parts seeping out of the sofa or oozing out of the fireplace.

In particular a pair of pink buttocks appeared to be exploding from the wall paper.

Having ordered two lattes and a slice of Madeira, they continued their debrief.

‘I think they were a woman’s’

‘No definitely male. Donald’s are the same type.’

‘Really. I imagined his would be more pendulous.’

‘Oh no. He was in the Guards, you know.’

The barista looked up, causing them to pause. ‘Chocolate on those?’

I did wonder if she was referring to the coffees or Donald and his Buttocks Of Military Bearing…

I sat near the picture windows, and thought I’d capture St Paul’s that is directly opposite. In the event even the picture I took was almost surreal.

Life:Art, huh? Can’t make it up.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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45 Responses to Surreal In The Here And Now

  1. Ritu says:

    Art is what you make of it…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great overheard conversation; great artwork. I’m pleased you found yourself

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, Geoff, whose buttocks did YOU think they resembled?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Darlene says:

    I love eavesdropping. It is so entertaining!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. willowdot21 says:

    I wonder if Donald is reading this, I love the second painting the doors and demon on the floor, it shrieks a poem at me . I am very impressed with the toast to St Paul’s.💜

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting conversation to overhear Geoff. Lovely artwork though, and your photo is good too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another eye beholder moment. Thanks, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. How fascinating, Geoff. You do visit some interesting places.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Surrealism often creeps me out – but I love how you turned St Pauls into the Pisa tower and modernised it. And thank you for the great poem you left on my blog this morning – it’s made my day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. masercot says:

    Looks as if she was influenced by Dali, Magritte and El Grecco…

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      She was, spending a few years at the end of the thirties meeting them and then the emigres escaping to New York from Europe when the war broke out. Not sure she had a lot to learn from her husband Ernst, mind. But as with everything surreal it’s very much a Personal choice of what you like and not.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Elizabeth says:

    While I had known of Ernst, she was unknown to me. Fascinating work. Thanks for the mention. As for comparing behinds…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Widdershins says:

    Here’s to Donald, ‘pert & clenched’! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: The Madness of doors. | willowdot21

  14. Ah, the Tate Modern! My children enjoy telling everyone how they were permanently damaged by being exposed to the works on display when we visited. I rather like having my brain re-wrinkled now and then, but as they are quick to point out, what’s a few more wrinkles to someone my age? Wretched little beasts. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. In my dictionary, one of the definitions of surreal is, “a museum of modern art or the people who visit one.”

    Liked by 1 person

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