Wednesday, September 28, 2011


This is the name of another one of my artistic heroes. But unlike Frida Kahlo, this one is not so famous.

Remedios (pronounced "reh-MEH-dee-os") is a Spanish name meaning "remedy." It is often bestowed in reference to the Virgin Mary because she is sometimes known under the title "Our Lady of Good Remedy."
In comparison to Frida her life was tame, if you don't count moving to another continent to escape the Nazis. She was born Maria de los Remedios Varo Uranga in Spain of 1908. Her father was a hydraulic engineer who found work throughout Spain and North Africa as a way to escape the Spanish Civil War. Her youth pointed towards nothing extraordinary. She was an imaginative little girl who was sent to art school to study her passions. In 1940, she fled to Mexico City. She expected to be there for only a few months, but wound up living there for the rest of her life.

Remedios Varo is often listed as a Mexican painter because her work really blossomed while in the country. She found her voice and her style became instantly recognizable. And I saw them in the flesh so to speak, the photographs don't really do them justice. They are just incredible. She knew Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera but did not prefer their company. I can't find any evidence of animosity, but I imagine it didn't help that one of the "intellectual artistic bitches of Paris" that Frida hated so much was Remedios' mentor. Remedios primarily socialized with her old European colleagues who were also in exile. Her great painting period was relatively short. Most of her well known work dates between 1950 to her death in 1963.

If you look through her work, you kind of get the feeling that she's Pagan. As it turns out, Remedios was passionate about the mystical and the occult. She particularly was in love with alchemy and the geometry used to create sacred spaces. She believed in the legend of the Holy Grail, I-Ching, and Sufism. Sure sounds like an Eclectic Pagan to me.

Remedios is an unusual name, even in Spanish speaking circles (although apparently it's popular in South America). Although Remedios is also the name of a character in the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, there doesn't seem to be that many well known namesakes. The masculine variant is Remedio, which is also not really used much. Or how about just Remedy? That in itself is lovely and I can see that catching on with the non-Hispanic set.

It's such a pity that this name doesn't get more attention. I would clap my hands in joy if I met a little Remedios. Not too many of them, though. I like my unusual gems.

Image Credit:


  1. "Maria dos Rem├ędios" is a common name among women in their 60s in Portugal. Nowadays, it is only approved as a middle name.

  2. Remedios is one of my favorite characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude. In fact, one of my most adored scenes in literature is one in which she is bathing and a man falls off through the ceiling of her bathroom. Remedios la Bella, good memories...


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