The expenses for this evening have been generously underwritten by Joanne Callahan, who writes, “Since the year 2000, the St. Louis Jung Society has offered my beloved Dr. Joe Callahan and me a deep and vital sharing of the symbolic life and Jung’s depth psychology. In our present culture of so much “misinformation,” the quotation carved on top of our own St. Louis Art Museum, “Art is truth. Take refuge there,” is an anchor. In this hope, I dedicate Mary Barron’s talk this evening on the incomparable artist, Remedios Varo.
This lecture explores the archetypal images of the extraordinary artist Remedios Varo, who painted her story of individuation.
Her work reveals a uniquely feminine perspective of the alchemical process of transformation. Varo was trained in classical and surrealist art, but her magical images are wholly unique. They reflect her deep rapport with the archetypal world which she expresses with the detail of medieval miniature and the sensibility of a woman attuned to a profound understanding of the soul.
In her art, the theory of correspondences – that the microcosm reflects the macrocosm – is a visual reality. The imaginal world Varo creates captivates with the jewel-like quality of a Book of Hours, yet is utterly a reflection of a modern woman’s inner journey towards the experience of her fuller, deeper identity. Jung called this the process of Individuation. Remedios Varo’s extraordinary visual document of her psychological journey even includes a painting entitled Leaving the Psychoanalyst’s Office, which shows the initials FJA, for Freud, Jung and Adler, inscribed on the office door’s bronze plaque.
- To increase one’s understanding of the symbolic/archetypal journey reflected in the spiral, a psychological passage through thresholds of consciousness that Carl Jung called Individuation.
- Great art, as Jung wrote, escapes “from the limitations of the personal and has soared beyond the personal concerns of its creator.” (CW 15, para 107). To experience the reality of these words in the creative imagination of Remedios Varo’s paintings.
- To come closer to understanding the uniquely feminine thresholds in the process of transformation as expressed in the alchemical images/paintings of Remedios Varo.
Mary Wells Barron is a Jungian psychoanalyst who trained at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich and has lectured in the U.S. and abroad for thirty years on the interface of art and psyche. She is a senior training analyst of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. She was a member of the board of directors for the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS). Her work has been published inAnima, Spring, and on ARAS Connections and includes ”Breaking of the Vessels: Destruction and Creation in the Art of Anselm Kiefer” (2001); Destruction and Creation, Useless Science or the Alchemist by Remedios Varo (2006), and Remedios Varo: The Spiral Journey(2022). Other works include papers on Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding and a “Tear in the Veil: Beauty and Shadow in the Art of Alexander McQueen.” Mary’s most recent paper, “The Rubedo of Beauty and Grief,” will be published in the Fall Issue 2023 of the Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche.