Surrealist texts by surrealist women: Alice Rahon

Waolgang-paale, Portrait of Alice Rahon

Alice Rahon, Scene de chasse (1942)

Alice Rahon,  The Cats, oil and sand

Alice Rahon, Gato Nocturno, oil on canvas
 Painter and Magician

In earliest times painting was magical, it was the key to the invisible. In those days the value of a work lay in its powers of conjunration, a power that talent alone could not achieve. Like the shaman, the sibyl, and the wizard, the painter had to make himself humble, so that he could share in the manifestation of spirits and forms. The Rythm of our life today denies the primordial principle of painting: conceiving in contemplation, thew emotional content of the picture cannot be perceived without contemplation.
The invisible speaks to us, and the world it paints takes the form of apparitions; it awakens in each of us that yearning for the marvelous and shows us the way back to it - the way that is the great conquest of childhood, and which is lost to us with the rational concepts of education.
Perhaps we have seen the Emerald City in some farway dream that belongs to the common emotional fund of man. Entering by gate of the Seven Colors, we travel along the Rainbow.

(From the Catalog, Alice Rahon, Willard Gallery, New York, 1951).

Penelope Rosement, op.cit., p.242

Alice Rahon (1904–1987). Born Alice Marie Yvonne Philippot.French poet and painter, the daughter of an academic artist who encouraged her to paint. She adopted her mother’s maiden name after an early divorce. In 1931 she met Wolfgang Paalen and they married three years later. They joined the Surrealist group in Paris in 1935. By 1936 she was better known for her poetry, publishing in that year the collection Sablier couché, illustrated by Pablo Picasso. In 1936 too she traveled to India with Valentine Penrose. Her next book of poems, A même la terre, with illustrations by Yves Tanguy, came out in 1939, just before she and her husband emigrated to Mexico. She helped Paalen organize the International Surrealist Exhibition in Mexico City. It was Paalen who illustrated her poems published nunder the title Noir animal in 1941. In the following year she was a contributor to Dyn, the review he had founded. She resumed her artwork, sometimes using paint that had dried on her husband’s palettes; she painted visionary landscapes, fantastic buildings, primitivelooking people and animals as well as hieroglyphics. Some of these features are found in two works from 1946, Thunderbird and La Nuit enchantée. She was clearly influenced by popular and traditional Mexican art but also explored the theme of Woman, especially the links between history and legend, on the one hand, and contemporary female concerns, on the other, particularly after she and her husbandwere divorced in 1947; at first glance Autoportrait (1951) comes across as childlike in terms of style but on closer inspection it seems to depict the vulnerability of a woman coming to terms with the world. A number of her paintings—for example, Scène de chasse (1942) and The Cats—call to mind primitive cave paintings, whereas Les canaris (1946) is reminiscent of Joan Miró. After she heard of the death of André Breton in 1966, she painted a tribute, Man Crossed by a River.
Keith Aspley, Historical Dictionary of Surrealism, (Lanham,Toronto, Plymouth,The Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2010) p.405

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