Author Archives: Karina Hodoyán

Dancing at Gunpoint: Surrealism and Revolution in Mexico

The arrival in Mexico of Spanish exiles such as the artist Remedios Varo amid the context of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and World War II (1939-1945) was a stimulus to Mexico’s economic and cultural development. Mexico was politically positioned to support these exiles due to President Lázaro Cardenas’ (1934-1940) progressive policies, which were based on the ideals of the Mexican Revolution. That framework built on the country’s connection to Spain without necessarily bypassing the history of colonization (we can’t deny our Iberian heritage); it speaks to what Roberto Fernández Retamar describes as “the other Spain,” not the clerical and ultra-reactionary one, but the one of 16th-century figure Bartolomé de las Casas and the 20th-century fight for the Spanish Republic[1]. It’s simply mistaken to assume a single totality for a nation as linguistically and ethnically diverse as Spain, what with its Indo-European and North African roots. The era of Varo’s arrival enjoyed a shared vision of revolution and social change, a vision aligned to global political and social movements outside the imperialism of the West