The Road is Wider than Long: Southampton enjoys Roland Penrose and British Surrealism

By Ruth Hazard | 06 February 2012
An image of a surreal painting of a figure with a bright yellow face
Roland Penrose, Night and Day (1937). Oil on canvas
© Ronald Penrose Estate
Exhibition: The Road is Wider than Long: Roland Penrose and British Surrealism, Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton, February 9 – May 13 2012

Roland Penrose, the artist responsible for establishing the Surrealist movement in England, is the focus of a new exhibition exploring this innovative style of art.

The show will examine British Surrealism from its origins to the present day by bringing together more than 100 significant artworks which reflect both the weird and wonderful nature of surrealist practice.  

Artists distinctive for the fusing new ideas with traditions of romantic landscape, spiritualism and humour will feature at the space, as well as a number of works by the British Surrealist Desmond Morris.

Representing the sometimes bizarre nature of the movement, painter and zoologist Morris guided a chimpanzee to create more than 400 works of art, first exhibited at the ICA in the 1950s.

Visitors to the Southampton gallery will be able to experience these controversial and rarely seen pieces by the animal for themselves.

It was Penrose who pioneered this type of work, as co-founder of the ICA and close friend to many key figures from the modern art world.

His marriage to fellow artist and photographer Lee Miller saw the couple host contemporaries such as Pablo Picasso and Man Ray at their farm in Sussex.

It was here that he created some of his most famous paintings and collages, using his relationships with his wife and companions to create a theme for his work.

The exhibition invites guests to discover Penros's Surreal world through books, ethnographic material and photographs taken by both him and Miller.

  • Open 10am-5pm (except February 22 and March 26). Admission free.
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