Disillusioned with reality and looking for a means to escape it, a preference for the surreal and phantasmagorical is what defines our twenty-first-century taste buds


In the 1920s, the cultural movement of Surrealism saw the light of day under André Breton. Artists such as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and René Magritte were able to show us a path between imagination and reality where one could travel to different sceneries, bodies and dimensions without changing one’s physical location. It was a time when artistic escapism enlightened people’s minds and souls and practicality was replaced by dreams, thoughts and spiritual journeys to nonexistent lands.

Paintings such as The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, The Son of Man by René Magritte, The Red Tower by Giorgio de Chirico and The Elephant Celebes by Max Ernst are still iconic to this day and keep on inspiring souls that are influenced by surrealism and escapism. As our technology develops, art too evolves into new forms.

Today, platforms like Tumblr, Instagram and Pixlr are seeing a movement of digital art inspired by the surrealist epoch. Young, talented souls are expressing their thoughts, emotions, fears and scars through abstract digital art; and contemporary poetry keeps on blossoming. From family issues and romantic heartbreaks to political and social conflicts and taboos; everything is being ‘digitalized’ in alternative ways and forms.

What seems to be common in all the content is the ‘surrealist/escapist’ style. Surrealism is: ‘communicating one’s imagination as exposed in one’s dreams, as “out of the ordinary” as it may be, without relying on reason or logic, letting one’s soul and imagination flow and be expressed in all the possible extraordinary ways’.

Media platforms are not the only ones seeing this phenomenon. The fashion, music and film industries are also immersed in the surrealist/escapist style. From Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Ziegler’s Elastic Heart and Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance music videos to Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2006 and Viktor & Rolf’s 2010 collections. As well as films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Michel Gondry and Inception by Christopher Nolan; there is a clear revival of Surrealism in popular art and culture.

But the community that seems to be the most inspired by the surrealist movement is the video gaming industry. Most of the game developers are fascinated by Surrealism. Games like Super Mario Sunshine, Jak & Daxter and Cuphead were all inspired by this movement. They are not based on reason or logic, but more on extraordinary adventures, bizarre forms and abstract locations, sceneries and characters.

The generation of the twenty-first century has shown a preference towards escaping reality rather than staying within the realistic framework of daily life. We are living in an age of discovery, exploration, and wanderlust. This generation can accept to be anything but ordinary.

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