Ana Vázquez de Parga has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Painted in 1939, at the height of Óscar Domínguez’s involvement with the surrealist movement, Paysage cosmique is one of the artist’s acclaimed series of cosmic landscapes, which emerged as the result of his experiments with automatic processes of painting. According to Marcel Jean, these cosmic landscapes first appeared in Domínguez’s art as a result of creative chance. While drinking and chatting with friends in his studio one day, the artist let his paintbrush flow across the canvas in a series of uncalculated strokes, which resulted in beautifully curvilinear wave-like forms. Unmediated by Domínguez, this process corresponded to the surrealist ideal of gesture-based automatism, which was advocated by Breton as a means of freeing the unconscious mind, liberating the rational self and allowing access to free expression. Inspired by the forms which resulted from these experiments, Domínguez began to build his compositions around these marks, layering his colours in a series of subtle, yet rich tonal shifts, incorporating an array blue, grey, green and purple tones into his compositions. The cosmic views he painted as a result would prove incredibly influential on several of Domínguez’s fellow Surrealists, impacting the compositions of such artists as Roberto Matta, Gordon Onslow Ford and Esteban Francés.
In Paysage cosmique, the artist’s use of free-flowing brushstrokes creates an otherworldly vision of an amorphous landscape, at once stationary and flowing, its forms appearing to undulate, dip and shift across the canvas. This viscous nature of the landscape adds a fantastical quality to the composition, transforming it into a dreamlike setting, whilst still retaining references to the volcanic terrain of the artist’s homeland of Tenerife. The island’s topography had a lasting impact on Domínguez’s imagination, and the stratified rock formations of the present work recalls the western coastline of the island, shaped by the daily pounding of the Atlantic Ocean into a series of dramatic cliff-faces, inlets and caves. Domínguez includes a number of incongruous objects within the landscape, from the egg which appears to float in mid-air, wrapped in a sinuous curve of rock, to the humanoid form that perches on a small plateau near the top of the cliff. This figure, seemingly encased in a bubble, lies next to the silhouette of a window, an impossible feature in the midst of the rocky environment. Combined with the spiked, net-like constellations of geometric forms that spring from the rocky escarpment at the centre, these surreal objects and scenes lend the composition a magical, dreamlike quality that defies comprehension.