Tarnmoor’s ABCs: Xul Solar

Surreal Cities ...

Surreal Cities …

All the blog posts in this series are based on Czeslaw Milosz’s book Milosz’s ABC’s. There, in the form of a brief and alphabetically-ordered personal encyclopedia, was the story of the life of a Nobel Prize winning poet, of the people, places, and things that meant the most to him.

My own ABCs consist of places I have loved (Iceland, Patagonia, Quebec, Scotland), things I feared (Earthquakes), writers I have admired (Chesterton, Balzac, Proust, Borges, and Shakespeare); locales associated with my past life (Cleveland, Dartmouth College, and UCLA), people who have influenced me (John F. Kennedy), foods I love (Olives and Tea), and things I love to do (Automobiles and Books). This blog entry is my own humble attempt to imitate a writer whom I have read on and off for thirty years without having sated my curiosity. Consequently, over the next couple of weeks (there are now only two letters left in the alphabet: Y and Z), you will see a number of postings under the heading “Tarnmoor’s ABCs” that will attempt to do for my life what Milosz accomplished for his. To see my other entries under this category, hit the tag below marked “ABCs”. Today is X for—no, not X-Ray—but Xul Solar.

I generally do not like modern art, but I have a strange affinity for many surreal artists like Salvador Dalí, Giorgio di Chirico, and Xul Solar.

In March of last year, I already wrote a post about the Latvian-Argentinean painter, whose real name is Oscar Agustín Alejandro Schulz Solari, but since that “X” is a difficult letter to account for in any alphabetical scheme such as this one, and because I plan to visit his museum in Buenos Aires in November, I decided to write more about his work, which is filled with strange cities and desolate landscapes populated with strolling characters of a vaguely human appearance.

“Paisaje Bunti”

“Paisaje Bunti”

As I wrote in my previous post, it was Jorge Luis Borges who turned me on to his work. As he wrote on one occasion, “His paintings are documents of the unearthly world, of the metaphysical world in which the gods take the forms of imagination, dreams. Passionate architecture, happy colors, many circumstantial details, labyrinths, homunculi and angels unforgettably define this delicate and monumental art.” Soon after he wrote those words, Borges lost his eyesight and was unable to enjoy any paintings, save what visual fragments remained in his memory.

Below is Xul Solar’s take on a cathedral:



My hotel in Buenos Aires will be within walking distance of the Xul Solar Museum, which is situated at Laprida 1212, a short walk down Pueyrredón from Recoleta. You can visit the museum’s website and view a nice selection of his paintings done over some fifty years. Never mind that the text is in Spanish.