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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Surrealism spans from Mexico to NE Campus

By Zaman Fabela/reporter

With more than 100 attendees, Dalel Cortés, owner and executive director of the Instituto Mexicano de Español y Cultura in Cuernavaca, Mexico, presented Surrealism in Mexico on NE Campus Nov. 15.

“Why in Mexico, or Latin America, use surrealism? Why?” she said. “Many illustrious members went there because of its energy and the beauty of its nature.”

Mexico includes the ancient coastal city of Tuluma, the largest cactus forest in Cardon and numerous archeological ruins.

“Those areas are surrealistic,” she said.

These cities and more made it a good country for surrealism to start, Cortés said.

“The first thing that Hernando Cortés saw was Tenochtitlan — two mountains, the total contrast of white peak, black mountain and the green forest,” she said. “I’ve experienced going there, and the feeling is very surrealistic.”

Although Cortés lectured in Spanish, NE Spanish instructor Jaime Palmer translated into English. At times, he would halt translation and challenge the audience to interpret what was said.

The surrealistas were poets, writers, painters, sculptors, directors, thinkers and photographers, Cortés said.

“Many of these people were in my state, and I didn’t know it,” she said.

French poet André Breton was recognized as the founder of surrealism, she said. He discovered renowned artist Frida Kahlo.

The genius in Kahlo was tough for many to comprehend, Cortés said. Breton had her paintings exhibited, but Paris and New York didn’t recognize her talents, Cortés said.

Diego Rivera, another artist, was of communist ideology, Cortés said. Many of the surrealists were of the far left.

Kahlo and Rivera’s love was a surrealistic relationship: married, divorced, married again, Cortés said.

Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington and other surrealist artists came in the 1940s, she said, many making Mexico their home. Not every country wanted the communists, but Mexico allowed them to come.

Poet Edward James was an aristocrat of a multimillionaire family from England. He discovered a place near San Luis Potosi with tropical plants and orchids. This location met his desire for a surreal home environment.

“He falls in love with it, saying it was his dream place,” Cortés said. “James loves nature.”

Cortés also recalled John Spencer, another surrealist artist from England and part of Princess Diana’s family, who moved to Cuernavaca in the 1960s. Despite his wealth, he moved into a small, dingy room in a large estate and wore clothes until they were tattered.

One day, a friend saw him wearing a pair of shoes with one torn apart. The friend asked him why he didn’t buy new shoes.

“I only have two feet, and I don’t need two [shoes] until the other is worn out,” Spencer replied.

After presenting more than a dozen profiles from the surrealism movement, Cortés said, “I would love if you discovered more of these artists.”

Audience member Susan King has traveled to Spain but said she never exposed herself to this much about Mexico.

“I enjoyed the vivaciousness of the paintings,” she said. “I don’t know Spanish, but after this, I really want to take a class.”

Bertha Jimenez, another audience member, also enjoyed the presentation.

“I really like it, the paintings,” she said. “I’m of Mexican descent, and I didn’t know any of it. It’s really interesting to find things about your culture.”

Cortés said Mexico has a lot to offer travelers.

“I would invite you to come to Mexico,” Cortés said. “Even I get surprised each day.”

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