Surrealist works of art aren’t just insanely cool, they’re also ridiculously insightful. The exceptional power of surrealism is manifested in the viewer’s instinctive emotional response to images that use the juxtaposition of the most unlikely symbols to convey the most relatable feelings. Surrealism can capture the essence of an inexplicable dream, an unidentifiable emotion, or whatever other indescribable by-product of the subconscious an inspired artist might encounter.
In the “Surrealist Manifesto” (1924) French poet Andre Breton, the founder of the surrealist movement, wrote that surrealism was meant to express the real functioning of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.
Indeed, in actuality, the images created by our subconscious during a dream state may be closer to the truth than the scenes surrounding us in the physical world. As reality is arguably an illusion itself, bringing delusional dreams into literal existence might just be the sanest, most brilliant form of artistic expression yet. Essentially, surrealism upheaves this madness from the depths of our subconscious so that reality dwellers may look upon the spectacle that is the inner workings of the human mind. In this way, surrealism ascends the limitations of our physical reality to prove that there is, in fact, truth in intangible nonsense.
Although the surrealist movement began in the early 1920’s, there has not been an era more suited for surrealism than that in which we are presently living. Lo and behold, the same limitless depths of the internet which have enabled remix culture to thrive are also well suited for inspiring surrealist works of art.
Today visual artists around the world are responding to the endless assemblage of images present on the internet (or essentially, the collective thoughts of mankind accessible via Google) with surreal collages depicting unconventional scenes of modern day society. Rene Magritte explained this fascination, stating, “Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.”
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In her artist statement Montana based artist Sarah Eisenlohr explains that her collages use places of existence to create fictional ones in an effort to demonstrate the ways in which humans have transformed the earth. These scenes often carry undertones of spirituality and faith. “I consider the figures’ desire for shelter, warmth, and something stronger than themselves as symbols of serenity that I seek through spirituality, while the use of sublime in my work points to a relationship with the divine,” explained Eisenlohr. Eisenlohr uses the collage as a medium in order to transplant the influence of humanity on images of idealized untouched landscapes culled from vintage magazines.
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Ernesto Artillo is an incredible Spanish artist that works for scores of fashion labels like Celine, Elie Saab and Mango to give their ad campaigns that creative elevation only a truly innovative artist knows how to do. Ernesto explored his process in his own words, explaining, “For me, collage means detaching from my tendency of keeping everything in order. I’m constantly trying to become more abstract and less geometric. It allows me to literally cut/break with things – even though they are my own pictures – to create a new order. I suppose collage makes me challenge my own conventions.” Artillos broad span of influences range from Modern and high Renaissance art to flamenco dancing and the bullring, to the precise details of garments and the models who wear them. Check out his work here.
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California based artist Eugenia Loli draws inspiration for her surreal art collages from vintage magazine images. Loli intends for her images to serve as a snap shot from a surreal movie from which the viewer can create his or her own narrative. To achieve this Eugenia Loli often starts with a base image and builds from there. Choosing not identify with a particular artistic style, instead, her approaches range from “pop” to dada and from modern illustrations to traditional surrealism. Snag a piece of her collection for your wardrobe here. Although Loli runs an online store, she also gives her artwork away for free in full resolution through Creative Commons licenses, explaining, “I believe that art loses its true value when it becomes fully commercial, because the artist then tries to please the latest visual fashion or the wishes of his customers. How am I supposed to describe you who am I, when that has a price?”
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Madrid based photographer, graphic web designer/editor who specializes in the experimental portrait. Montoya cites the human body in synergy with nature, the female figure and the loss of identity as the conceptual basis of her work. Particularly, Montoya explores the the behaviors and emotional states of human beings by editing images to convey their understanding of the world around them through aesthetic elements. Check out her incredible body of work here.
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Berlin based artist Moki Mioki, reveals the deeper connection between humans and nature as she incorporates portraits and landscapes with seamless continuity. Mioki stated, “The beings disappearing in my paintings illustrates the state of mind when you cannot distinguish between you and the other, that feeling of awareness for what surrounds you.” Her scenes are inspired by images of northern landscapes which she describes as “isolated Scandinavian and Icelandic terrain, a subarctic frozen lake continent, untouched caves and moss meadows, and mountains sculpted into anatomical shapes by wind and water.”
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Sebastian Eriksson is a young Swedish artist who conveys his emotions through surrealist expressions, which he accompanies with descriptions of the state of mind that he seeks to explore. Of the photo below he says, “It describes a person with psychological problems such as schizophrenia, insanity, depression or other mental problems. His endless screaming makes his own mind eat him up. I have periods in my life where I feel like this. I wanted to make an illustration of my thoughts and my pain within.”
“There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” –Salvador Dalí