Carlos Orozco Romero

Sueño, 1940

Oleo / tela
51.5 x 61.7 cm

This dreamy townscape is one of Orozco Romero's best known paintings. It was executed shortly after André Breton hailed Mexico as the surrealist country "par excellence." That declaration aside, Orozco Romero, along with Agustín Lazo, Carlos Mérida and others, had been experimenting with surrealistic tendencies long before Breton's famous visit in 1938. Despite the fact that Orozco Romero was one of the artists represented by the Galería de Arte Mexicano, he was not included in the International Exhibition of Surrealism, held there in January 1940. Instead, he was in the United States, where he exhibited works at the Golden Gate International Exhibition, and at the New York World's Fair. Indeed, Dream was probably painted while Orozco Romero was in New York on a Guggenheim Foundation scholarship. It may therefore have been inspired by longings for Mexico and his native Jalisco. The oneiric quality in Dream is achieved through radically distorted scale in combination with carefully rendered spatial recession. Tiny human figures attempt to set a smiling balloon, inspired by a painted bank from Tonalá, aloft. Though much smaller, these figures recall the central puppet-like figures in Protest [La Protesta] (1939; Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection). The eerily foreboding townscape brings De Chirico's Ariadne paintings to mind; and while the spare receding white and ochre stucco walls powerfully provoke memories of provincial Mexico, the oversized heads and distortions of scale evoke Miró or Tanguy and might even be transmogrifications of the Trylon and Perisphere at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Regardless of the referents, by creating a dreamlike landscape, Orozco Romero declared his understanding of the central tenets of surrealist thought: the uncanny juxtaposition of unrelated elements and the idea that "true thought," is approximated only in the unconscious or the dream state.

Vide Adriana Zavala, Arte moderno de México. Colección Andrés Blaisten. Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

More of this artist

Francisco Díaz de León Fund