Wild imaginings in the galleries

Bay Area Reporter, Nov 11, 2015

Women rule as authors of their art, which doesn't mean that men don't make solid showings, in gallery exhibitions running through December. Take a look.

Theatrical and fiercely independent, a woman in a man's world who slept with a harem of famous men and dressed in such a flamboyant manner as to render onlookers speechless, Leonor Fini was an iconoclast in art and in life. The wildly imaginative Argentine/Italian painter, stage designer and illustrator of texts by Poe, Verlaine, Baudelaire and Shakespeare â€" she was costume designer for Fellini, whose films she could have stepped out of â€" once said she painted the way she dreamed. (Though she mined her subconscious for material and was labeled a surrealist, she was not, in fact, a member of the tribe.) Fini's outsized high-priestess persona and the company she kept anchor Realisme Irreel, a show at Weinstein Gallery. It includes works on paper and paintings completed between 1938 and 1992, rich with Renaissance, Medieval and gothic motifs, eroticism, Marquis de Sade-inflected fantasy, and scenarios where women often dominate submissive men. The artworks are augmented by Fini's writings, selected correspondence with Dali, Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington, among others, and rare photographs of Fini taken by the likes of Dora Maar, Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray that help explain what all the fuss was about. Through Dec. 5.


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