Chance Encounters 1

Oscar Dominguez-Maquina de coser electro-sexual
Spain produced some of the finest surrealist visual artists, all of whom gravitated to Paris in the twenties. Picasso, although assiduously courted by Andre Breton was never officially part of the movement, however he remained a sympathetic fellow traveller, contributing to Surrealist periodicals and drawing inspiration from Surrealist techniques. Other heavyweights more directly involved were Joan Miro, an important innovator in pictorial automatism; the Surrealist film-maker par excellence Luis Bunuel, and of course the most outrageous Surrealist of them, Salvador Dali.

Although relativity unknown compared to his compatriots OscarDominguez furthered Surrealist automatism by his championing of Decalcomania, which was taken up by many Surrealists; most notably by Max Ernst whose the Europe After The Rain II  uses the technique with haunting, unforgettable effect.

Oscar Dominguez-Untitled 1936
Dominguez also painted in the precise, limpid figurative style favoured by Dali and Magritte. One of his most notable works in this manner is the disturbing painting Maquina de coser electro-sexual (The Electro-Sexual Sewing Machine) of 1935, The very title refers back to startling statement from the Ur-Text of Surrealism, Les Chants De Maldoror by the self styled Comte de Lautreamont, ‘As beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a operating table.’ In true Surrealist fashion Dominguez makes overt the latent eroticism of such a bizarre juxtaposition. The sinister machinery is reminiscent of similar contraptions found in the early Dada works of Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia and conveys the same message of mechanized hostility and sexual aggression. The menace is heightened by the forbiddingly dark background contrasted with the ivory cloth covering the nude from the shoulders upwards, suggesting sensory deprivation and depersonalizing the woman on the operating table further, making her subject to all manner of violations.

Dominguez also painted a premonitory  self portrait in 1931 that showed his deformed arm with blood flowing from sliced veins. Twenty six years Dominguez committed suicide by slitting his wrists after returning home from a party.

Oscar Dominguez-Auto Portrait-1931

8 thoughts on “Chance Encounters 1

  1. There you go. Dominguez was angst ridden and later got severely depressed. It’s a terrible way to go. It was probably a part of him that so this awful demise hurtling towards him. I can see how Spanish culture supports surrealism. In Spanish literature there is a scene called magical realism. It’s pervasive in 20th century post WWII Spanish and Latin American writing. There is an overwhelming fascination with dead people and the afterlife and there is no distinction between truth and fact. It all melds together.

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