Across Varo, Carrington, and Horna’s works, women take center stage as mighty goddesses and sorceresses, reclaiming power over areas they’d previously lost or been consigned to. In Carrington’s The House Opposite (1945), for instance, she transforms a traditional domestic space into an occult laboratory for magic-making; in the kitchen, three figures (likely representative of the artist, Varo, and Horna) gather around a cauldron, cooking up what looks like a very strong, perspective-altering potion. Similarly, in Varo’s 1961 work Bordando el manto terrestre (“Embroidering the Earth’s Mantle”), a group of women reclaim the domestic act of weaving by literally constructing their own world; the cloth they produce doubles as the environment in which they live—and possibly rule.
Carrington, Varo, and Horna—along with many other Surrealists—would stay in Mexico for the rest of their lives, long after World War II had ended. There, untethered from limiting European traditions, their work expanded and evolved as the country’s lush landscape, mythological and mystical traditions, and the work of contemporary artists like Kahlo and Rivera seeped in. In Mexico, the shape of Surrealism transformed into a movement more inclusive, diverse, and deeply innovative than Breton, upon founding it, could have ever dreamed.