Four legendary figures for surrealistic art and literature
Surrealism first emerged as a form of art during the initial years of 20th century. Surrealistic art and literature portray disproportionate juxtaposition of images. Abnormal physical features signify the characters or objects in surrealism. Surrealistic artists, authors and poets intend to lay emphasis on the distress and perversions caused to society and people by adverse circumstances. For this reason most of the literary analysts envision surrealism as a revolutionary thought aiming to point fingers at the irrational and disgraceful angles of life and reality.
According to most of the literary scholars worldwide, the most dexterous writer who brilliantly exercised surrealism in his books was Franz Kafka. Particularly, his striking novel "Metamorphosis" created a widespread buzz across the realms of modern literature when it was first published in 1915. In this masterpiece, Kafka described a working class young man Gregor Samsa who one morning after waking up following a night of unsettling dreams, found he was transformed into a huge cockroach-like bug. First he thought it was a nightmare. But it turned out to be real when he saw his entirely different body somehow raising his head.
His chest and abdomen had turned dark brown with alarming distortions of shape and his legs and arms had turned into several thin, ugly twig-like limbs which were wriggling in front of his eyes. The story is quite long, so I am not going to narrate it in details. However, Franz Kafka started writing in an era when the west was at the doorstep of the Great Depression which plunged the whole western part of the globe into a critical economic decline with many industries terminating workers and at the same time the discrepancy between the wealthy and deprived sections of the society was fast widening. People at the lower middle position of the society had their dreams squeezed by social discriminations, their hopes and desires were all vanishing. Moreover, when Metamorphosis was in press, the First World War was going on which added another shockwave of horror across the world.
With the mechanized, capitalistic, greedy world offering all privileges only to the upper class, people living from hand to mouth gradually begin to become oblivious of their human identity. Intense repression, poverty and disappointment make them feel like ignoble insects--disliked, trampled, denied by others. Franz Kafka's writings are still considered the most illustrious works representing the tormented, underprivileged, stoical class of urban citizens who slowly become insensitive to their own deprivations. His ideas are appreciable till today because we know social injustice and imbalanced distribution of wealth are still prevailing due to which hard-pressed people can't avail their rights and at times don't find any meanings of their lives.
One great Spanish surrealist painter was Salvador Dali. His paintings strangely contorted human appearance into forms of trees, utensils, instruments and other inanimate things. I saw some of his paintings in the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia which is one of the world's largest art galleries. I have gone through Salvador Dali's autobiography. That book includes some of his very admirable paintings.
Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca was another major pioneer in Spanish surreal literary movement. His poems present an excellent blend of romantic and surreal components which inspired millions of common Spaniards to demonstrate against the regime of Franco, the Spanish dictator back in 1930s. A few words by Lorca often touch my heart "Then I realized I had been murdered. They looked for me in cafes, cemeteries and churches but they did not find me. They never found me." I personally find much similarity between the romantically rebellious poems by Lorca and Kazi Nazrul Islam whose reinvigorating poetry played an immense role to embolden his compatriots against the suppressive British rulers during the colonial period.
Pablo Picasso's terrific painting "Guernica" during the Spanish civil war was a blatant, naked assault on the autocratic Spanish government at that time which I regard as a leading expressionist and surreal artwork. It's a widely told incident that once Picasso's home was raided by the Spanish army to search for his anti-government paintings.
When the soldiers found "Guernica" which allegorically depicted the genocide by the Spanish junta back then, one army officer asked Picasso angrily: "Who has done it?" Picasso calmly answered: "You have done it!"
The murders, torture and human rights violations committed by General Franco's soldiers rampaged entire Spain and spread countrywide panic. Pablo Picasso's painting "Guernica" illustrated these things in surrealistic dashes which is still regarded as one of the most piercing portraits against tyranny.
Surrealism is found in Bengali literature too, particularly in the poems of Abdul Mannan Syed. Most of the poems in Abdul Mannan Syed's books Janmandho Kobita Guchchha (Born Blind Verses), Matal Manchitro (The Drunken Map), Agghraner Neel Din (Blue Days of Late Autumn) have profound shadows of the poet's knack for surrealistic exercise.
Surrealism is a highly relevant creative modus in the present world of widespread repression, longstanding wars and socio-economic torment.
The writer is a literary analyst for The Asian Age
Leave Your Comments