Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Bite 6: Rene Magritte - The Unexpected Answer, 1933

The Unexpected Answer, 1933
There is no answer here, unexpected or otherwise, but rather a pervasive mystery taunting the viewer. 

A deep shadow occupies the middle of the painting, coming through an ambiguous space cut through a door, somewhat resembling the silhouette of a (female?) figure, or perhaps a couple embracing. It is an uncanny shape, it reminds me of something - I'm sure I've seen it before - but its origin remains at the tip of my tongue, unanswered.

Typical of Magritte's unique brand of 'realist' surrealism, The Unexpected Answer provides even less to go on than his more famous works. The wood (or whatever material it is) is unrealistically thin, remaining selfconsciously a representation of a door, the frustratingly indefinite depth of the surface, through an impossibly clean cutout, adding to this paradox, emphasised also by the title.

Staring at the work its name and surface continually mock; the unexpected answer, the unexpected answer. As if by saying these words over something may appear, an answer may show itself. Yet the hole remains cavernous and dark, the space as ambiguous as ever, inviting me and denying me at the same time.

It is the deceptive simplicity of the work that makes it so captivating, stopping me in my tracks, never letting me alone. All words are bound to fail, any interpretation will slide off it - or be engulfed into its blackhole.