I definitely need a disclaimer. I am not an art connoisseur and neither do I proclaim to be an art critic. But what I am is a human who met a certain art piece for the first time and connected with it like no other.
The Son of Man by Magritte called to me the instant we locked eyes, but perhaps in this case the instant my eyes locked with the apple in front of the eyes of the man with the bowler hat. The mood of our encounter was set; Nina Simone’s ‘Sinner Man’ played in the background, and I had just read ‘I’ll Give You the Sun’ by Jandy Nelson. All was perfectly aligned for two metaphysical worlds to collide, it art, me living. The moment I saw it flash on my computer screen, I knew I had known it existed all along, I just needed to pay more attention, and boy I did.
The striking image of multiple objects playing trickery on my visual acuity wasn’t lost on me, who is this genius?
Ahh! Magritte, the Belgian surrealist who lived from 1898-1967.
Throughout his life, René François Ghislain Magritte was somewhat notorious for using his art to challenge our preconceived notions of reality. Ever heard the saying, ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe?’
How is the drawing of a pipe not an actual pipe? You tell me. But Alas! It isn’t, you can’t smoke it from the drawing can you? This is exactly the type of trickery Magritte played with art, his words and his audience. I fell in love right away with his work. Through wittiness and through provoking images, the man behind the canvas is unveiled.
So, upon understanding the maker, I was ready to understand the ‘Son of Man’.
And that’s what is unique about art; subjectivity. My interpretation is different to yours.
The ‘Son of Man’ quickly became a life lesson for me and I’ll explain why very shortly. On oil canvas sized at about 116cm X 89cm and created in 1964, we see a man in an overcoat with a bowler hat appearing to be the subject of the picture Magritte intended to draw. Behind him is a low wall and behind that is the vast sea and a cloudy sky. The most subtle element of this painting is the left arm bent slightly at the elbow and the most apparent element is the green apple drawn right in front of the face of the man with his eyes attempting to peek through this auspicious fruit – almost as if it were an inconvenience or perhaps not and this fruit was in the right place, the man was only intending to hide.
Right away I knew this was a game between the visible and the invisible world. What hides so something else can be seen? What dies to sacrifice for rebirth? What gives so something else can be gotten? What do we say but mean something else? This art is the trickery of imagery but when deconstructed it applies to everything around us.
Magritte once said about this artwork specifically, “At least it hides the face partly well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present”.
Never have words rung truer to me. At present this art piece is my favourite art to look at, deconstruct and analyze because I can apply the idea which formed the art’s creation into all aspects of my life, specifically in the aspect of entrepreneurship. I have soon begun to realize that to get something in return (the visible), something else (hidden) needs to be given. As an entrepreneur, you can relate to this in the form of giving off your all (time, energy, space, mentality) to achieve something great for your idea. Oftentimes failures arise as the visible to give birth to success, the invisible. All we do and all we see is the reflection of something else that is hidden. Another area in which we can apply this interpretation of the conflict of the visibility worlds is in the digital revolution and the rise of science & tech. It appears as if with every advancement, there’s always a thirst and a hunger for even more knowledge, this is why we are all moving to Mars – research has now deemed it possible.
There are just so many ways to apply Magritte’s words and interpretations of this art in all areas of our lives. So, I don’t know much else to say about this to deconstruct ‘The Son of Man’ any further but all I know is that this artwork rang so true to my very core, I connected with it, and I knew right away it would be my favourite art piece till date. I now know that in every situation I find myself, and in every thought forming in my end, I always ask my self, what do I have to sacrifice to give rise to this? What is currently been hidden to give way to what I am seeing?
So, in constantly asking myself these questions searching to make the invisible visible, I am the man in the overcoat wearing a bowler hat peaking through a green apple placed in front of his eyes.
But I am curious, what do you see? Let’s converse.