The imagery of René Magritte’s Surrealist masterpieces from the mid 1920s and 1930s continue to influence art and fashion today. Superfluous clouds, shrouded lovers, men in bowler hats, shiny green apples, a pipe (which isn’t a pipe of course!)… These fantastical and witty images come to mind when thinking of the Belgian Surrealist master.
But a new exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art delves deeper into the mature artist, who departed his Surrealist style to explore other oeuvres. René Magritte: The Fifth Season, which opens on 19th May,celebrates the artist’s mid-life departure from his Surrealist aesthetic, which he returned to later in life.
Spread over 9 carefully curated galleries, the exhibition shows off 70 of Magritte’s mid-life works. During these years, Magritte flirted stylistically with art historical genres, borrowing the sensual strokes of Renoir,the lurid palette of Fauvism, the exaggerated markings of Expressionism, and pop imagery.
These pieces, although a departure from Surrealism, still feel exquisitely “Magritte”. The artist’s famous wit, his playfulness with scale, and his love of challenging context by placing ordinary objects into extraordinary scenarios, remained through his dalliance into other artistic styles.
The paradoxical exhibition will cover Magritte’s artistic practice from the 1940s through the 1960s, showing art lovers a new side to the Surrealist master, with a promise of unique immersive environments designed especially for the show. René Magritte: The Fifth Season runs from 19th May through to 28th October 2018.
Artists continue to be influenced by Magritte, both by his Surrealist style as well as his mixing of juxtaposition and scale to recontextualize ordinary-seeming objects, scenes and landscapes. Here are 3 artists whose work has that Magritte touch:
Canadian artist Peter Horvath uses collage to create evocative tableaus that touch on Surrealism, drawing from his vast collection of mid century magazines and periodicals.
Starting with vintage portraiture of pop icons and old Hollywood, Peter mixes saturated landscapes, text and scientific drawings to create spliced collages that deconstruct beauty and fame ideals of years past. With their billowy clouds and obscured faces, Peter’s pieces immediately call to mind Magritte’s “The Son of Man”.
Chin Keeler and Emma Tornero, working together as KEELERTORNERO, abandon their individuality in order to do a Surrealist act: painting collaboratively as one. Their paintings evoke the aesthetics of the 1940s and 1950s, mixing vintage fashion and styles with their own brand of oddity.
A clan of Marlene Dietrichs show off red lobster claws, while John Wayne meditates amongst stag beetles. The resulting pieces are at once kitsch and contemplative, challenging context and scale just as Magritte did.
Surrealist in name, Super Future Kid is a London-based artist whose work is a futuristic take on Surrealism. Mixing the fantastical with the everyday, her dreamy work is a mash up of cartoons, space-agey imagery and classic Sci-Fi, painted in a sickening sweet candy colored palette.
Photographers have been capturing the magic of the city since commercial cameras became available in the mid-1800s, and they continue to find the mystery of the urban jungle to be intriguing. We’ve rounded up a group of photographers who view the urban landscape through a unique lens.
1. Pedro Correa
Pedro Correa isn’t your typical urban photographer. The Belgian artist uses his camera like an Impressionist painter uses his brush, replicating the iconic heavy brushstroke of the Impressionist movement by capturing motion with his lens.
Urban scenes dissolve into dreamlike landscapes, their soft focus feeling more like faded memories than documentation of reality. Pedro’s background in painting is evident in his photography: his pieces are emotional and effortless, yet he honours the tradition of photography by leaving his captured image unaltered, editing in-camera before the decisive moment.
2. Tomas Cambas
The urban landscape is transformed into an abstraction of the simplistic beauty of geometry under Tomas Cambas’s lens. The Buenos Aires-based artist’s eye grazes over the angles and arcs of street scenes, pulling out spatial forms from the grit of the city.
Rather than sharing a narrative of city life, his abstract photographs show a unique and quiet solitude devoid of people, giving a fresh and unexpected perspective on urban photography. Tomas’s works allow abstract art lovers to seamlessly blend photography into their collections.
3. Steven Irwin
The energy and chaos of urban life comes through in Steven Irwin’s heavily manipulated photo montages. Cityscapes are scratched, stained, spattered and layered together digitally to create imagery that feels aggressive, tumultuous and rough, balanced with bursts and spurts of color.
Steven’s technique, although digital, is reminiscent of damaged and weathered film negatives, the fading skylines boldly showing through his purposeful markings.
Tokyo is a city of constant movement, its dense population continually moving about in contrasting scenes of the ancient and the hypermodern that make up the Japanese capital. Riccardo captures the buzz of the city and the passage of time with his multiple exposed photographs.
The photographer will set up a shot and record how the scene changes throughout the day. He then superimposes the frames on top of one another. The resulting pieces not only have an energetic movement, but can be read like an anthropomorphic diary, written from the location’s point of view. Riccardo has also captured the vibrancy of Florence, New York and Hong Kong.
5. Nick Miners
When he’s not photographing the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland, Nick Miners is fascinated by the hard edges and angles of the often controversial Brutalist architecture.
Nick finds the mixed perceptions of the Brutalist movement to be a personal challenge, what many critics find to be “ugly” architecture, he uses as inspiration to create beautiful imagery. Shooting this architecture exclusively in black and white, Miner pushes the contrast to high levels, transforming these rough details into dynamic patterned imagery.
For as long as she’s been an artist, Helen Wells has been fascinated by the patterns and motifs that exist in nature. From fossils and feathers to snowflakes and seashells, nature’s bounty is Helen’s muse and she incorporates its patterns into her ink and watercolour works with delicate precision. Helen won the Winsor and Newton Watercolour Revolution competition in 2014. She has since exhibited around the UK and her works can be found in private collections worldwide.
What themes and ideas are you exploring with your art?
My artwork is intuitive and intricate, often featuring ideas and imagery from the subconscious. I use expressive mark-making to create abstract pieces that feature repetition and rhythm, layers of complexity and organic forms. I’m fascinated by the interplay of colours, shapes and patterns.
I experiment in my sketchbooks and will sometimes take a germ of an idea from these and use it as a springboard for a larger work. Most of my work is painted in watercolour. There is something about the unpredictability of this kind of paint which I find alluring and magical.
I love the way the paint and colour mixes with the water on the page and creates unexpected patterns. I love the transparency of it, the ability to build up layer after layer of paint. There’s a slight wild-childness about watercolour - it doesn’t always do what you want it to do, and I love it all the more for that.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
As a child I was always drawing. I loved spending hours creating elaborate and intricate patterns from my imagination. I used to get through so much paper that my dad started to buy me large rolls of wallpaper lining-paper to keep up with my insatiable demand for more paper.
Creativity is making your ideas manifest. It’s singing your song, dancing your dance and embracing your weirdness. It’s being true to who you are and creating the things that only you can create. The hope is that someone else will see what you have created and that they will connect with it.
Tell us about your studio space - what do you love about it?
I am very lucky to have two rooms at the top of our house in Hastings. I’ve painted the walls and floor white to maximize the light. Having painted wooden floors also means I can roll back the rugs and make a real mess without any worries.
At Rise Art we believe that great art is for everybody. Discovering, enjoying and collecting art doesn’t have to be intimidating and expensive. Our Head Curator has done some digging and chosen her top art displays/events/activities currently on in London, New York and Hong Kong - and they won’t cost you a cent.
Ellie Armstrong reviews Cape Town's Zeitz MOCAA, the largest contemporary art museum in Africa.
John Quilter, more widely known as the Food Busker, talks to us about the importance of creativity.
Lucie Bennett’s silkscreen prints and paintings on aluminium explore the female form in all its curvaceous glory. Go behind the scenes with us to find out more about the artist's motivations and methods.
Head Curator Rebecca Gordon investigates the power of painting by reviewing 3 blockbuster London exhibitions that turn our attention back to the old school painting tradition.
Antoinette Genevieve tells us about six cities that have exceptional public art. If you ever find yourself in Lima, Hong Kong, Porto, Liverpool or Vancouver - don't miss out.
With their vibrant colours, smiling sunbathers and gleeful swimmers, Ruth Mulvie’s paintings are pure joy. Ruth creates her utopian wonderlands from her loft studio in Brighton. Found imagery and old photographs form the basis of her work - with buckets of colour thrown in.