Французская живопись

Рене Магритт. Продолжение

   "The author who wishes to show complete respect for the struggle Magritte waged against faulty interpretations and explanations - and it was indeed a struggle - nevertheless finds he has to ignore Magritte's own personal ban. Even Magritte himself attempted to explain why he wanted no explanations.
"His pronounced hostility to the idea of the symbol in relation to his work, his undisguised dislike of psychoanalysis in particular, and his distrust of any and every interpretation naturally had reasons. He was defending the very essence of his work by adopting this attitude. If, therefore, we try to understand something of the meaning of his resistance - and Magritte never forbade us to attempt that - we shall come closer to his work by this roundabout way.
   "Seeing, says Magritte, is what matters. Seeing must suffice. But what kind of seeing must it be? Of what quality? A form of understanding is possible beyond the confines of any verbal explanation, which, if it is of any use at all, must be authenticated by a way of seeing. Unfortunately, for a large proportion of the public, seeing is not sufficient. People often see things hastily and think about them carelessly; they have been educated in disciplines and traditions in which words represent ideas and have a dominant function. This function has left the realm of revelation beyond words neglected and unexplored.
   "Magritte, who was a painter and a painter tout court, albeit an unusual one, was nevertheless more aware than any of his contemporaries of words and of the dubious status they had acquired. His consciousness of words is evident in both his writings and paintings. Dealing with words was a dangerous game to play, though, for by playing it he introduced the element "Word" into his painted "images." Thus, anyone seriously concerned with Magritte's work cannot avoid taking a thorough account of what Magritte sought of words in his work and of the value he attached to them.
   "The simplicity in his work is a suspect simplicity. In his writings - which include general articles, a few literary pieces, and special articles on specific themes - and in the titles he gave to his works, Magritte was methodical, as he was in his painting. The unexpected is never mere caprice. Moreover, it resides not so much in Magritte as in ourselves. We are not prepared for, and we do not instantly grasp, his technique of thinking and painting. It is not recalcitrance on his part but a natural need to react to the stereotype phenomena of everyday life in a way contrary to expectation; it is a need to correct. What is more, in Magritte's work this became a discipline of feeling, thinking, and behaving which he discovered and evolved for himself. Accordingly, his method - others feel it was a discipline - is as valid a subject for our inquiry as the works themselves.
   "Magritte attempted, as it were, to achieve a controlled resonance in his work. After he had finished a painting, it set up a resonance within him, in which he involved his closest friends. This resonance in the artist himself was necessarily different from that in us, who are the uninitiated in regard to his pictorial and verbal imagery. Yet, despite everything, Magritte probably attached more than usual importance to having people feel the right kind of resonance. That he could do anything about this himself was an illusion; the others were the critics, the art historians, the museums, the art dealers, the collectors, who play their own game with a variety of intentions.
    "More often than not, Magritte chose ordinary things from which to construct his works - trees, chairs, tables, doors, windows, shoes, shelves, landscapes, people. He wanted to be understood via these ordinary things. Those who find him obscure should not forget that he had turned his back on the fantastic and on the immediate world of dreams. He did not seek to be obscure. On the contrary, he sought through a therapy of shock and surprise to liberate our conventional vision from its obscurity.
   "...[L]et us therefore keep, so far as we can, to Magritte himself, to his own resonance, to his method. Even though his is a complex, sophisticated world in which we often lose sight of simplicity, we are able to find this simplicity again in the works themselves, a fact that can only increase our astonishment."





 

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