La llamada (The Call) 1961

Remedios Varo, La llamada (The Call), 1961; Gift from Private Collection
Remedios Varo, La llamada (The Call), 1961; Gift from Private Collection

Like many figures in Remedios Varo’s paintings, the subject of The Call (1961) projects a sense of solemn preoccupation, as though in the midst of a momentous adventure. Wearing flowing robes and carrying alchemical tools, including a mortar and pestle at her collar, she traverses a sort of courtyard. Her hair forms a brilliant swirl of light, which seems to bring her energy from a celestial source.

This work reflects Varo’s characteristic color palette—the central figure, illuminated in fiery orange-gold tones, walks through shadowy, more muted surroundings. Precise lines reveal unexpected details, such as walls that appear to entomb figures in tree bark.

Varo’s own features, particularly her large eyes and long, straight nose, often appear in the faces of her protagonists, emphasizing the importance she placed on her perspective as a woman. However, as in The Call, her works do not feature direct self-portraits. The figures are frequently androgynous or not-quite-human alter-egos, with witty and delicate features of fauna or otherworldly creatures.

Varo created this work near the end of her life, while living in Mexico and growing in artistic reputation. It reflects her Surrealist influences and her interests—she dabbled in alchemical experiments—as well as her talent for evoking ambiguous narratives through art.

National Museum of Women in the Arts