Surrealism, Part the Second

This here is not a blog.

Mais ceci est une blague.

Whether or not you find me as punny as I do, I find this joke to be a valid description of the surrealist themes in the art that we have been discussing.  Just as Noelle pointed out concerning Magritte’s work, “La Trahison des Images,” the pipe is not a pipe; it is an image of a pipe.  And, as the title suggests, images are deceptive.  Rallying behind this surrealist standard, it would seem that for Magritte and other surrealist artists that everything must be reevaluated; especially the way we perceive life in apparent “certainties” (the irony being that this idea is age-old… Timaeus much?).

Claude Gauvreau, a Quebecois artist, poet, and playwright, is a perfect example and herald of this idea.  As a social activist, he was a signatory of the Refus global; a declaration against established tradition, especially religion.  In the course of his work, he created his own language, fittingly called “l’exploréen.”  Maybe Gauvreau would disagree, but I feel that the essence of surrealism can be captured by this idea of exploration.

Art, therefore, as an expressive extension of the inner workings of surrealists like Gauvreau, becomes a testimony to the perspectives of its makers.  But to stop and stare is not enough.  Maybe the art was l’art pour l’art, but to the passerby, the very nature of surrealist art is grounded in the idea of exploration.  Just as the art enters gradually into the onlooker, first through the eyes, then passing into a much less physical dimension, so does the surrealist seem to seek an exploration of the self on the canvas in a manner that is a slow conversation with the unknown corners of their soul’s map.  It is a style which does not use but utterly relies upon a dialog with the unconscious self.

It would seem that it was for these very reasons that Gauvreau allied with other like-minded thinkers against the notions of establishment and religion.  Tradition, it appears, is nothing more than an escape for the self-ignorant to be content with the ideas of others.

After a number of years in and out of the mental ward, Gauvreau fell to his death on July 7, 1971.  It is uncertain whether it was an accident, or suicide.

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