Abstract painting in green and blue tones of a twisted, floating shape with spikes

La Isla (The Island)

Mexico was introduced to European surrealism with the arrival of André Breton in 1938 and the subsequent showing of the International Surrealist Exhibition, at the Galería de Arte Mexicano in January 1940. Surrealism provided an alternative to the Mexican Mural movement for artists who possessed a familiarity with international styles and ideas of art. Surrealism further gained attention as a group of exiled European artists including Wolfgang Paalen, Alice Rahon, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, and the poet Benjamin Péret, emigrated to Mexico City between 1938 and 1942.

Gerzso himself returned to Mexico City in 1941* with the intention of becoming a full-time painter, but within the year financial pressures led him to accept a job designing sets for films in Mexico. In 1944 Gerzso came into contact with the group of émigré surrealists and soon fell under their sway. In a 1973 television interview Gerzso mentions that he had not intended to become a surrealist, but that he became friendly with the exiled group and allowed himself to be influenced by them.

For example, in La Isla, Gerzso follows the style of Paalen and André Masson. His works of this period are mostly experimental but they are Gerzso’s initial expression of the emotions and irrationalities that later appear in his canvases.

*From 1935 to 1941 he had been a set designer at the Cleveland Playhouse in Ohio. He had started to paint in those years and was encouraged by the positive response of his friends.


More Works by Gunther Gerzso