Culture: The Surrealist Revolution, Wicked, Janelle Monáe

Alternate realities in the spotlight this month, ?with Oz upended, Surrealism at the VAG ?and Janelle Monáe’s androids. Art // The Surrealist Revolution

Alternate realities in the spotlight this month, 
with Oz upended, Surrealism at the VAG 
and Janelle Monáe’s androids.

Art // The Surrealist Revolution

Surrealism, which took root in the 1920s, is typified by works that present unexpected juxtapositions or elements of surprise. The same kind of unbridled experimentation also played a part in the personal lives of many of Surrealism’s leading artists, including Max Ernst. Ernst, born into a devout German Catholic family, left his first wife in 1922 to settle into a ménage à trois with poet Paul Éluard and his wife Gala in Paris. When Éluard grew uncomfortable with the arrangement, Ernst struck out on his own; he later married American heiress Peggy Guggenheim, while Gala ultimately left Paul for Salvador Dalí. Ernst’s 1923 work The Forest (left) is one of more than 300 pieces – from Ernst to Dalí to Miró to Man Ray – featured in what’s billed as the most comprehensive surrealist art exhibition in Canadian history. Vancouver Art Gallery, until September 25.

Event // Wicked

It’s not by accident that in The Wizard of Oz neither the Wicked Witch of the West nor her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East, has a name. To name is to humanize – and those women were stand-ins for pure evil. Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West attempted to rebalance the scales. In his postmodern retelling of the children’s classic, the green-faced one has a name, Elphaba, and a backstory, complete with a jealous rival in the so-called “good” witch, Glinda, who wants Elphaba’s man, and a character assassin in the corrupt Wizard of Oz. Broadway legend Stephen Schwartz, the man behind Godspell, sensed a good melodrama when he read the book, and in 2003 a musical was born. Eight years later, it remains one of the Great White Way’s top productions, grossing over a million dollars each week. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, June 1 to 26.


Music // Janelle Monáe

Image: Getty

Despite the fact that her breakout song “Tightrope” has been co-opted, wittingly or not, by GM to sell ho-hum sedans, you can’t help but love Janelle Monáe. In addition to being prodigiously talented – as anybody who saw her Jackson-eque song-and-dance routine on the Letterman show last year can attest – she is also delightfully idiosyncratic, in both fashion (her signature look: a tailored tux) and sound (Prince meets Herb Alpert meets James Brown). Touring her 2010 album The ArchAndroid, Monáe technically gets second billing for this show with Hawaiian heartthrob Bruno Mars, but music geeks know otherwise. Rogers Arena, June 3.