As with many of Carrington’s surrealistic paintings, they are enigmas. Maybe they are snapshots of her inner life—a mix of personal relationships, dreams, alchemy, astrology, myth, and probably alcohol and drugs influence all. You may find the compositions appealing dream visions or eye-candy.
What they mean is up to you unless you have the means to figure them out. Joanna Moorhead finds Carrington’s paintings a world of “weird and wonderful happenings” that are “packed with adventures and fun and oddness and humour.” But Alastair Sooke thinks Carrington’s paintings “febrile imagination” outlandish, magical, and meaningless. Hhmmm.
Pastoral is a grotesque picnic, a dreamy assortment of figures in a pastoral setting. Nothing is what you expect; flying critters that resemble dragons, a hedgehog-like figure walking upright holding a dead bird, two shadowy lumpy fully draped figures, an assortment of dogs (?), an African Kudu (?), and a lithesome figure of youth of indeterminate gender sitting on a white cloth. The neatly arranged picnic includes a skeleton of a fish, a plate of berries some of which have spilled, and a carafe of wine.
Featured Image: Introducing Carrington’s collection of short stories, Kathryn Davis quotes her as saying, “I don’t think in terms of explanation.” Pastoral (1950), oil on canvas
See: Joanna Moorhead. The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington. Boston: Little Brown, 2017; Alastair Sooke “Leonora Carrington, Tate Liverpool, Review: ‘Mystery Masks Meaningless’ The Telegraph 2015; Weird fiction Review. Kathryn Davis, “Introduction,” The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington. 2017; Catalogue reference for the sale of Carrington’s Pastoral. https://www.phillips.com/detail/LEONORA-CARRINGTON/NY010517/20