NÉON: A Surrealist Journal, 1948-1949

October 9, 2023 - January 26, 2024

Exhibition on view by appointment through January 26, 2024

Ubu Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of the journal Néon, a unique graphic expression of Surrealism conceived, founded, designed and directed by the Czech poet and artist, Jindřich Heisler (1918-1953), which appeared in five issues from January 1948 to March 1949. It presented as a four-page newspaper folded to broadsheet format and was constructed from collaged texts and images, which gave it a provocatively complex visual presentation, while importantly allowing great economy of means in its production.

Néon carried a variety of poetic and literary texts, criticism and reviews, as well as polemics. Graphic images – including visuals by the Surrealist group’s many eastern European participants, such as Frederick Kiesler, Toyen, Jacques Hérold and Victor Brauner – turn its layout into a tango between the respective outputs of artists and writers. The paper was the product of many hands under Heisler’s guidance, an intense collaborative exchange embedded into the process of putting it together, which principally took place in Brauner’s Paris studio, a fertile space of intellectual and social encounter. The layout is not so much wantonly eclectic as is the strategy of much of Dada design, as it is polymorphous and multilingual.

The exhibition presents all five issues of Néon in both its deluxe and regular editions (10 issues in total). In addition, Ubu is showing original works of art intended for a sixth unrealized issue. Many of these works are by Adrien Dax, a Toulouse-born French Surrealist painter and draftsman. There are a number of other works, including one by the Scottish outsider, Scottie Wilson, as well as manuscripts by Henri Pastoureau, Jacques Brunius, Pierre Demarne, Maurice Baskine, Simon Watson Taylor, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, Claude Tarnaud, as well as by Heisler himself.

Exhibition Checklist- Hanging Works
Exhibition Checklist- Display Cases
Typographic Tango by Krzysztof Fijalkowski, Eye, no. 68 vol. 17, Summer 2008
Néon from Jindřich Heisler: Surrealism under Pressure, 1938-1953 by Jindřich Toman and Matthew S. Witkovsky, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2012