Headline, September24, 2013



Just as in his life Magritte courted anonymity by hiding behind the bourgeois respectability,  so in his art he disguised his sophistication and technical skill by adopting a lumpen industrial style in which  ''the minor predilections of an individual no longer count''.

In fact, he was the most individual vision to come out of the Surrealist movement.

There was also nothing naive about Magritte's art; he just wanted to look that way. He trained at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Brussels and was well versed in contemporary artistic developments. 

But during the Twenties, Magritte also worked as a commercial artist, producing designs for a wallpaper factory, and graphics for posters, sheet music and the brochures of a furrier. It is these flatly printed everyday images   -apples, fish, eggs, loaves of bread, puffy clouds and postcard landscapes   -which are put so such extraordinary use in his paintings.

Fellow Surrealist Max Ernst described his art as  ''hand-painted collages'' , but although Magritte was good at forming unholy alliances between incompatible objects, this is only part of his achievement. His paintings are more than visual puns,  they encapsulate complex ideas with a remarkable economy and have the illogical logic that usually only occurs in dreams. 

He finds the bizarre in the banal and the hilarity in the horror. In front of a Magritte it's often difficult to know whether to laugh or scream.

Surprisingly, Magritte did not get top billing in the Surrealist movement. In a group, who conducted their revolution in the public, his obsessive privacy posed a problem, as did his extreme reluctance to budge from the cosy domesticity of Brussels.

It was only after his death in 1967 that Magritte began to receive serious critical recognition. Yet he has always been popular with other artists. Mark Rothko was an unexpected fan, and Magritte's celebration of the crass struck a sympathetic chord with Pop and its precursors  (in spite of Magritte's scathing dismissal of Pop as ''sugar-coated Dadaism''.)  Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, 

Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol all owned works by Magritte, and his irreverent practice of lifting imagery from other artists has now become standard fare under the umbrella title of  ''appropriation''.

Magritte would doubtless appreciate all irony of his own appropriation by today's mass media. He would also be amused at the way in which his imagery has returned to popular culture from which it originally came.

But however voraciously his work plundered, there is no risk that it will be eclipsed. Magritte repeatedly stated that the only reason for painting was to evoke  ''the mystery of the world. 

Indeed, indeed, the works that hang the walls of the Hayward Gallery are infinitely more mysterious than anything that can be found on the outside.

Just for a moment, stop and review : Les Amants or Souvenir de Voyage. Then scream, shriek and laugh as you must. Maybe, just maybe, you understand what richness of the soul means.
With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Madagascar. See ya all on the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless : '' !! Symbiose !! ''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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