But the question in my mind is
Reading more about him I think he suffered a sense of frustration at seeing things that were obviously more than the ‘actual’ that they represented. There was always a desire to overlay some sense of mystery, an appeal to provoke a questioning response.
I think that quote reads as a spiritual statement of sorts – the ‘thing’ to which he refers is what I recognise as wonder; the unidentifiable, the mysterious, the thing that is larger than I.
On a painterly level Magritte used negative space to represent alternatives to what is there … what was there or what might be there. The questioning is persistent and demands the involvement of the viewer.
It is known that Magritte had a tragic childhood. He witnessed the recovery of his drowned mother’s body. Those that recovered the body covered her face to spare the young boy the horror and discomfort. The ‘veiled face’ emerged as a recurring motifs in his paintings.
Questions of place and vocation must have rattled his bones from time to time as he went from designing wallpaper and advertising posters to, purportedly, forging works by Picasso and De Chirico. It was only when he met André Breton that he embraced the potential of the Surrealism movement and by the 1930s his work was rewarding him with financial success.
The story of how a piece of art is created is one of fascination and intrigue. The premise and driving force behind the creation of the Wonderbook Magazine is to seek out these stories of wonder; the harnessing of those fantastic journeys and the retelling.
I hope these reminders will help us to rely on our instincts and avoid the trends, fashions and exigencies of the art-world.
I think it requires standing still, quietly, looking hard for that invisible ‘thing’, waiting for the wonder that will inevitably appear … it requires a little faith.
Our recommended books that were incredibly useful in the writing of this post