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Surreally stimulating in Helsinki Surreally stimulating in Helsinki
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-08-22 10:15:55
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The names Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, Joan Mirό and Jackson Pollok are just some names that I picked randomly from a very long list of artists that have one thing in common: they all belong to the surrealist movement. Actually, they have one more thing in common: works from those artists belong to the collection of the Jewish scholar, poet and art dealer Arturo Schwarz and the collection was donated in 1998 to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Until September 22nd more than 250 works from this collection are on display in Helsinki's Tennis Palace Art Museum under the title “Surrealism & Beyond”. It seems that this 'beyond' is equally important since it also covers from Dadaism to Expressionism, plus the legendary film Un chien Andalou, the result of an extraordinary cooperation between Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali.

I don’t need to write an extended analysis on the works of these people but I do want to discuss this 'beyond' in the title of the exhibition because I think that word is the quintessence of Surrealism and Dadaism, and it is beyond the forms of art we are used to reaching through literature, visual and acoustic forms. Still, there is something beyond even that and that is the brain and the soul of the observer; the work that starts after the observer has seen the work. It is like the spectator, the observer is part of the art and by observing the sculpture, the painting or the film they become part of it. This is what excuses the 'beyond' when it comes to this exhibition.

Surrealist and Dadaism movements were inspired and motivated by society and the human mind was influenced strongly by the new and, at the time, revolutionary studies of Sigmund Freud. Freud's studies of the human mind and psychology - where 'psyche' is Greek for the 'soul' - led to the creation of a whole science based on the study of the human soul, just the way Aristotle understood the soul.

Every single piece of work in this exhibition targets the soul of the observer and every single work in those rooms awakens hidden feeling and visions. René Magritte's “The castle of the Pyrenees” and Joan Mirό's “Bird” do exactly that; these two works dip into your soul as you stand in front of them - you are fumbling for your feelings and inner thoughts, your fears and secret joys and when you stand in front of Herbert Bayer’s work “Lonely” you see all those feelings, fears and joys overwhelm you and, at the same time, drown you in a desperation of the claustrophobia this modern world has sentenced you to.

When describing an exhibition I try to avoid metaphors and poetic expressions, but the sense of those 250 works and the overwhelming feeling of the artists behind them have left me little option. How can you describe Salvador Dali’s “Surrealist essay” or Marcel Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel”? It’s exactly a bicycle wheel when you try to describe it but when you stand in front of it is so much more than words can ever describe!  It is those moments that keep Surrealism and Dadaism alive even though, as movements, they were active mainly in the first decades of the 20th century. It is not only that the Surrealists' work is still alive and contemporary, the number of contemporary artists that are influenced from their work is also noticeable and the newcomers are still evolving these revolutionary visions and their approach.

So, if you live in Helsinki, if you live in Finland or somewhere close-by, visit this exhibition for a totally stimulating experience. Finally, I have visited the Tennis Palace Art Museum many times over the past decade for different exhibitions and have often left with reservations regarding the exhibition hall, but this time those responsible for the gallery have done superb work and that just adds to the feeling of majesty!

Originally published in Universal Colours

* * * * * 

SURREALISM & BEYOND - Masterpieces from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
26th June - 22nd September 2009

http://www.taidemuseo.hel.fi

Open Tue-Sun 11 a.m. – 8.30 p.m, Mon closed

Tennis Palace Art Museum
Salomonkatu 15 (near Kamppi shopping centre)

Tickets:
Normal ticket 9 e
Normal discount ticket 7 e
Admission is free for children under 18 years of age.
Free admission on fridays from 11am - 4pm


    
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