René Magritte

October 3 – December 2, 2016

Press Release

Van de Weghe Fine Art is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Belgian Surrealist, René Magritte (1898-1967).  The show is comprised of paintings, gouaches, and drawings that the artist made in the 1940s and 50s.

 

Magritte studied at the Académie Royale de Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and went on to spend several years working as a commercial artist there.  He lived in Paris from 1927 to 1930, where he met the likes of André Breton, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dalí, immersing himself in the surrealist movement. His seminal work from this time, La Trahison des images (Treachery of Images), 1929, a painting of a pipe captioned by the assertion “This is not a pipe,” deftly reveals the limits of language and image.

 

Magritte is a master at demonstrating the mutability of representation. Unlike other surrealist painters who tended toward biomorphic abstraction and imagery derived of free association and the subconscious, Magritte deliberately adopted the techniques and materials of academic representation, developed a figurative vocabulary of everyday objects, and honed a clear and dispassionate painting style.  

 

 Among the works on view in the exhibition, La Memoire (The Memory), a striking gouache from 1957, depicts a statue of a female head, eyes closed, marred by a large, red birthmark.  An egg-filled nest sits adjacent; a setting sun hovers behind. The objects resemble actors on a stage, partially framed by a dark curtain.   The cleverly titled La Folle du logis (The Queen of the House), 1948, presents a candle illuminating a charge of eggs in a nest.  The image manages to be at once maternal and overtly phallic.  Magritte’s illustration of space, too, appears at first to be straightforward but reveals itself to be manipulated. Le Calligraphe (The Calligrapher), a painting from 1958, shows a barren landscape illuminated by a sunrise not yet visible over the horizon.  There is only a single rock on which to anchor our shifting sense of scale; the landscape is both finite and vast. 

 

Magritte’s work is an invitation to look closely and to pay critical attention to what we see not only in a picture, but in the world.  His images are seductive in their clear simplicity but provoke unsettling thoughts as objects transform from one into another, shapes shift, and silhouettes become containers of meaning. He harnessed the poetic power of metaphor, which would have a lasting impact on contemporary art. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday from 10:00am – 6:00pm, and by appointment.  For further information, please contact Jenn Viola at jenn@vdwny.com.