Painted in 1979 when she was 80 years old, this work of art illustrates Eileen Agar’s commitment to the Surrealist painting style that she had developed during the previous 40 years. Artists such as Agar who were influenced by Surrealism dealt with the bizarre and the incongruous, trying to express the subconscious mind through the juxtaposition of unrelated and often fantastical items. Alongside allusions to the ancient world, Agar frequently used objects and imagery from the sea and shore in her work. In Bride of the Sea she has combined narrative and symbolic forms such as faces, fish and foliage, transforming them into abstract forms, which result in an organic, fluent image. In spite of this fluidity, Agar’s work is almost rigid in its composition. The geometric forms in the background give the image clarity and the artist’s love of blue creates a cool feeling. Agar said about her work ‘I like painting to be as clean as a tennis court.’
Eileen Agar was a leading British Surrealist. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she came to England with her family aged six. She studied at the Slade School of Art after travelling to Spain, where she was greatly influenced by Goya and El Greco. She lived in Paris between 1928 and 1930, where she met Picasso, Man Ray and Ezra Pound. She was the only British female artist chosen for the major International Surrealist Exhibition held in London in 1936. She exhibited regularly at The Redfern Gallery, London, throughout her lifetime. In 1999 she had a retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh which toured to Leeds City Art Gallery and in 2008 there was a major exhibition of her work at Pallant House, Chichester.
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