The painting, "Philosopher's Lamp" (1936), by René Magritte. 

Surrealism is one of the most important and influential art movements of the 20th century. The surrealist movement began in the late 1910s and early 1920s and reached its peak by the mid-1930s. Surrealism originated in France as a result of the Dada and Cubist art movements and was formed with the intent of unveiling the unconscious mind. Psychoanalysis also heavily influenced surrealist artists, as they tried to delve deep into the unconscious mind and produce artworks that merged dreams with reality.

The painting, "The Persistance of Memory" (1931), by Salvador Dalí. 

The painting, "The Persistance of Memory" (1931), by Salvador Dalí. 

While the surrealist movement encompasses a wide range of artists working with a variety of materials, the paintings of Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, and Joan Miró stand out above the rest. These artists produced works that continue to influence contemporary art, culture, and even design …just think about all those novelty melting clocks. Magritte, Miró, and Dalí were all formally trained painters who became indoctrinated into the surrealist movement by the writer and founder of surrealism, Andre Breton. They merged their traditional artist training with modern thought, each developing a highly individual style that can only be described as a representation of their own psyche.

The painting, "Catalan Landscape" (1924), by Joan Miró. 

The painting, "Catalan Landscape" (1924), by Joan Miró. 

The reoccurring themes and imagery present in surrealist art are not a stylistic choice, but a symbol of an artist’s individual thought. This freedom of artistic expression allowed for the surrealist artists to express political, cultural and religious themes in a different way forcing its viewers to think outside the box. Surrealism became a revolutionary movement. The aim was to be free; to become elevated out of false ideals and rationales by releasing the unconscious mind and working with Freud’s Free Association Theory.

Today Surrealism continues with artists exploring the inner workings of the human mind, working from their own personal unconscious and creating artworks that question social norms, and blend a highly skilled realist approach with conceptual thought. Artlink Canada’s new exhibition, "Visions of Fantasy", celebrates the original concept of surrealism by presenting this millennia’s surrealist art. This exciting group of artists showcases a newfound approach to surrealism that pushes the movement to its limits and merges contemporary culture with Andre Breton’s original mindset, founding ideals on surrealist thought.