Dušan and Voitre Marek: Surrealists at sea at AGSA | Alison Kubler review

One of the exhibitions I remember most  vividly from my younger years is Surrealism: Revolution by Night,  a National Gallery of Australia travelling exhibition, which visited  Queensland Art Gallery in 1993.

 I recall a spectacular Joan Miro painting that opened a door in my mind.  It was a hugely successful exhibition and I suspect ignited a new passion for the movement in those who saw it. 

While there was no organised Surrealist movement in Australia, many of our leading artists were influenced by Surrealism, among them James Gleeson, Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Arthur Boyd, Robert Klippel and Max Dupain. 

A new exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Dušan and Voitre Marek: Surrealists at sea (until September 12) is the first major survey of the art of Czech-Australian brothers Dušan and Voitre Marek who might be viewed in the same context. 

Surrealists at sea, Art Gallery of South Australia. Picture: Supplied

The exhibition draws together more than 200 works from public and private collections across the country and demonstrates the importance of revisiting and, it must be said, rewriting history. The history of Australian émigré artists has long been overlooked, so what you see in these innovative and experimental works is something too about how Australian society was formed after WWII by the Europeans who found safe harbour here.

The brothers came to Adelaide in 1948 and brought with them a host of new ideas fresh from Europe. At the heart of this important show are paintings created during the long sea journey to Australia aboard the SS Charlton Sovereign, hence the title. Surrealists at sea follows the duo over six decades and really celebrates their avant-garde exploration of media: paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints, photographs and jewellery. 

The exhibition features Growth caused by attraction.

The exhibition features Growth caused by attraction.

Visitors familiar with Surrealism will recognise the familiar tropes of the exploration of dreams and other worlds. The works look remarkably fresh and contemporary  in 2021 – the colours jump, and the paintings vibrate with the energy of the time they were made. 

See also:

Travel to France without actually travelling to France

Peek inside ACMI’s Disney exhibition

6 ways to go deep in Kakadu

10 museums and amazing new exhibitions to visit now

This article originally appeared on Escape and was reproduced

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Hi! I’m Ozzie!

Before joining Australia Exploring, I was a writer at Tripadvisor.

I'm looking for the best posts for you about travel adventures in Australia and around the world. This website has the purpose to inspire you to travel… travel more and better. I hope it can help you explore the world a little bit better.

I graduated from the University of Sydney. I live in California with my wife and two children.


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