Varo, then well in his forties, made his breakthrough with a group exhibition in 1955, showing paintings that dealt with the subconscious, the mystical, and the metaphysical; in many, the protagonist looked like Varo.
She was interested in tarot, astrology and alchemy, which she balanced with a long-standing love for science, especially geology, Arcq said in an interview. Varo’s work merged these interests.
“She was trying to find the intersection between the mystic and the scientist,” Arcq said.
In Varo’s painting “Harmony” (1956), a person (it could be a man or a woman) sits at a desk in a cavernous room, stringing objects like crystals, plants, geometric figures and pieces of paper of mathematical formulas on a stave musical that looks like an abacus or a loom. Silhouettes resembling muses seem to emerge from the walls. The person, Varo wrote in a note to his family, “tries to find the invisible thread that unites all things.”
At that time, she was living with Walter Gruen, an exiled Austrian owner of a popular classical music record store. He believed in Varo’s talent and encouraged him to devote himself entirely to painting.
Varo had her first major solo exhibition in Mexico City in 1956. It was a hit with critics and collectors as well as the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who is said to have declared Varo to be “one of the most important female artists in the world. . “His second solo exhibition, in 1962, was also a success.
Varo died of a heart attack on October 8, 1963. She was 54 years old. Gruen has become a tireless champion of her work and heritage, and a 1971 posthumous retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City drew crowds.
The value of Varo’s work has skyrocketed in recent years, largely due to its rarity, quality, and striking imagery.
“It has a magical effect,” Norris said. “There is a sparkle and a light in his work, much like you see in a large Renaissance painting. “