Surreal House at The Barbican Art Gallery

“For Our House is our corner of the world. As has often been said, it is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word.”
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958

The Barbican Gallery’s latest exhibition ‘Surreal House’ is a fascinating psychosocial labyrinth of barely lit chambers each exploring the surrealist concept of the home in varying mediums and disciplines. The exhibition combines a hotch-potch of memorabilia, animated furniture, cinematic vistas, convulsive forms and phantom guest, making for a somewhat disorientating and absorbing journey.

Surreal House brings together over 170 works, many rarely shown in the UK. Artists such as Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Alberto Giacometti are all represented.

The exhibition examines the importance of the house within surrealism and its legacies in a unique way, exploring the relevance of surrealism in architecture for the first time. The eclectic collection of works by first generation surrealists present the concept of the house within this genre, as Jane Alison (exhibition curator) puts is; “Art imagines the house, film ‘performs’ the house and architecture builds the house”.

The exhibition is divided into two levels with the ground floor devoted to the exploration of ‘domestic interior space’ and the upper level representing the house ‘as seen from above’. Lighting throughout the whole exhibition is dim and moody, creating an eerie, dreamlike atmosphere as you explore between the ‘chambers’.

The overall effect is to present each individual dwelling as a place of wonder, desire and foreboding. Fusing house and dream, it elaborates ‘the marvellous’ as championed by the principal founder of surrealism, André Breton. This sense of enchanted and subverted habitats to be discovered is suggested by the collection of haunted houses, caves, curiosities, ruined castles cages, boxes, labyrinths, bell jars and the womb all of which are represented through painting, film, photographic or sculptural form.

The exhibition runs until 12 September 2010 and will be accompanied by a series of events at the Barbican over the coming months including dances, parties, performances and talks. Download the events programme.

Get more info on The Surreal House exhibition HERE.

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