Arts & Culture

Arts Of The Week: René Magritte’s Golconda Painting

September 11, 2016

Introducing René Magritte, a Belgian artist known for his witty and thought provoking surreal imagery.

You’d have noticed by now how much surrealism interest me and René Magritte does surrealism like no other – it’s almost iconic. His signature juxtapositions provides the wealth of details to his paintings while his iconic  simplicity adds depth strangely giving new meanings to ordinary objects.

It is in its simplicity that René Magritte’s surreal images gain their mysterious, distinctive and revelatory power while his juxtapositions add fun and theatrical elements giving them greater power to convey their messages more strikingly.

Combined with its almost too poetic composition and its sometimes contradicting nature, René Magritte’s discreet interplays full of incongruities and incompatibilities are puzzling, stimulating and full of unusual (some might say bizarre) appreciation of the world. Perhaps, that’s why they interest me so.

René Magritte’s Most Famous Works

Don’t even get me talking about my favourites. Frankly, I contemplated so much about which one of his works to introduce this week. Even after deciding to go with the most recognized piece produced in the later stage of his career, it was still a hard decision.

Should I go with a witty and contradictory display of a pipe titled The Treachery Of Images This Is Not A Pipe (1948) that declares otherwise? Or should I go with the Son Of Man (1964) series including Man In A Bowler Hat (1964) and The Great War (1964), which later become iconic representations of the artist and his works?

Well, I also think highly of Decalcomania (1966), The Happy Donor (1966), The King’s Museum (1966), A Friend Of Order (1964) and High Society (1962) – all of which holds a similar style depicting alternate realities. The struggle was real.

Rene Magritte - The Great War 2 Rene Magritte - The Great War 1The Great War

Rene Magritte - Son Of Man (1964)Rene Magritte - Man In A Bowler Hat (1964)Son Of A Man / Man In A Bowler Hat

Rene Magritte - A Friend Of Order (1964)Rene Magritte - High Society (1962)A Friend Of Order / High Society

Rene Magritte -The King's Museum (1966) Rene Magritte - The Happy Donor (1966)The King’s Museum / The Happy Donor

Rene Magritte - The Treachery Of Images This Is Not A Pipe (1948) Rene Magritte - Gonconda (1953)The Treachery Of Images This Is Not A Pipe / Golconda

Mysterious, Stimulating & Contemporary

After a long thought, I decided to go with Golconda (1953). Mostly because even after half a century, I think the message it conveys is still highly relevant to the current society.

Titled Golconda (1953), which refers to a rich city in India known as the “mine of wealth”, the painting is bizarre as much as it is straight forward. If you look at it carefully, there is really nothing surreal in the painting. Everything in it is a subject that exists in our reality.

Everything in this painting, Golconda (1953) – well except for the act of falling and floating, which is playfully denied by its backdrop – is ordinary. Perhaps, our minds just become completely overwhelmed in the process of grasping the meaning of these ordinary objects and what they might represent that their mysteries remain.

Golconda (1953) depicts a literal scene of “raining men” who are identically dressed in dark overcoats and bowler hats. In the backdrop are a red-roofed building and a not so blue sky – playfully and calculatedly challenging its own concept. Highly influenced by his surroundings, this time René Magritte represented the increasingly lost individuality in the portrayal of his suburban neighbourhood, where most men were dressed in similar fashion.

While it spoke to a generation during its time, I’d like to argue the Golconda (1953) also speaks to the current generation about the blurred lines between society and individuality as much as it did in the past. Well, I mean only if the dark overcoats are Acne Studios, the shoes are Adidas Superstars and bowler hats are made trendy again by the Kardashians.

If you love reading about this article, there are other articles introducing arts just like this one here.

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Learn more about arts with me, city walkers!


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