Asleep

toyen-spici1
Toyen-Asleep 1937

The period immediately following the Czech avant-garde engagement with Surrealism in the mid 1930’s saw Toyen produce one masterpiece after another, including The Message Of The ForestHorror and Asleep (pictured above).

Against a bleak, featureless landscape with a nausea-inducing receding horizon a strange, spectral figure hovers in mid-air, holding a butterfly net. There is a collage-like effect to the figure that adds to the uncanny atmosphere; the bright red hair is wig-like and the stained white coat that is open at the back to reveal nothing at all produces a sensation of unbearable desolation and loneliness. Few paintings fully capture the sheer defencelessness and utter isolation that we experience nightly when we close our eyes and give over control to our unconscious as Asleep does.