No longer bound by the shackles of reality

The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown. – Rene Magritte

The unknown meanings of surrealist paintings such as those of Rene Magritte are precisely why this genre of art is so well loved and yet hated. Whether an audience feels that the techniques and subject matter of such paintings are incomparable to those of say Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in their complexity, elegance, and beauty, it is important to view this art movement more in terms of its liberating effects and the reverence for the unknown. As naturally curious beings, we seem to always need an explanation for the way things are whether we are analyzing daily events or the supernatural, we either seek God and/or other explanations for that which is mysterious or unknown to us. During this surrealist movement, not only does the artist surpass conventional technique and tradition, which often times restrains the artist’s ability to be creative and prevents him from being free of external influences, but he or she also is also allowed to explore subjects without having a need to explain his or her choice. Often times we need answers and reasons as mentioned, and yet other times, we simply need to be spontaneous and live, experience, and create things with no second thought given. Surrealism in a way can be seen as a therapeutic hobby of sorts if you think about it like stream of consciousness writing or in later years, splatter painting…

After ages of reason and philosophy to a pouring of emotions and romantic imagery, the next step in art is no surprise then, to have little to do with preceding exhausting subject matters. In the midst, too, of such turmoil in the 20th century worldwide, there really was no more thought to give for the way things transpired, after all, thinking about it only made it worse because we force ourselves to realize the atrocities we are capable of. Therefore the artist, instead retreats into the mind where having no answers was okay and creating illusions of a better or different life through strange, foreign, and unconventional depictions was a great escape from the harsh reality their eyes were facing. The mind, then, allows the artist to explore an alternative way of viewing the world. Though I am not personally a “true fan” of surrealist paintings as masterpieces of artwork, it is important to realize the kinds of innovative techniques that these paintings incorporate when going beyond the constraints of reality. By blurring images or contrasting them in unconventional settings and even using one image as a window into another “world” or subject matter, surrealist artists are able to lay down on a canvas that which is not “accurate” but rather that which is truly coming from inner inspiration and thought. Though the audience may see the confusing images and unconventional perspectives and shapes as complex, inaccurate, and betraying, I do not believe it is the artists’ intention to create a “trahison d’image” for the audience by perplexing them. Rather, this style of art grants the artist the opportunity to finally “experience” art for him or herself without necessarily needing to convey a purpose or to create a work imagined by someone else who would pay them to recreate it.

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