Arthur Magazine has an article titled “The Soma of Madness” in its newest issue that will surely take your imagination to far off places. It tells of Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s encounters with Japanese zen monk Ejo Takada and Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, who in my opinion blows every Surrealist painter out the window. Born in England in 1917, Leonora Carrington was educated by governesses, nuns, and tutors and was expelled from school for her rebellious behavior. She was sent to several art schools as punishment, but little did anyone know that she would later become one of the most influential painters of her time. After seeing the work of German artist Max Ernst in 1936, she became attracted to him and went on to become his mistress after meeting him in 1937. The two collaborated for some time, until Ernst was imprisoned by the Germans during WWII, which led to Leonora going mad and becoming institutionalized. After recovering, her reality became difficult to separate from her dreams. She escaped Europe and fled to Mexico where she later married and had two children. She was know to have a mythic reputation among Mexican painters. Luis Buñuel, Mexican filmmaker, once proposed to Leonora Carrington that she become his mistress. Without waiting for her answer, he gave her the key to his secret studio that he used as a love den and told her to meet him there the next afternoon. Early the following morning, Leonora went to visit the studio alone and found it completely tasteless. She took advantage of the fact that she was on her menstrual cycle, covered her hands in blood and made hand prints all over the walls to add some character to the room. Buñuel never spoke to her again.
I can imagine what kind of an influence Leonora Carrington has had on Jodorowsky. His films are so surreal and visually appealing and just so, so cool. They’re so ahead of their time, as is Leonora Carrington’s work. I can’t help but think that Kiki Smith is influenced by her. Maybe, maybe not. But go pick up the new issue of Arthur. The story will blow your mind and will make you a fan of two epic artists, if you aren’t already. Below, some photos of Leonora Carrington and her paintings.