"The False Mirror"
Oil on canvas
René Magritte, a 20th century artist known for his surrealist paintings, manages so surreptitiously to mask issues of psychology and the human subconscious beneath his deadpan style and fantastical depictions. The False Mirror (1928) is one such work, composed entirely of a lashless eye with a cloudscape in the place of an iris and a pitch black pupil in its center; the piece embodies the true nature of any surrealist work which attempts to defy our perception of the natural world. A body part we are all accustomed to seeing when directing our attention towards someone, the eye in The False Mirror almost seems to be looking right back at you, as if staring into some reflecting abyss. The eye, or mirror, or window that Magritte wishes us to delve into seems to conjure up notions of reality and perception. For our eyes provide the only interpretation of the visual world and yet possess so many limitations as opposed to other species of animals. Yet this concept of “sight” may not even be limited in terms of its physicality but can also refer to mental or philosophical sight; begging questions of possible multiple realities or worlds. Magritte’s enigmatic and cryptic piece seduces the viewer; luring them into a world of alternate perceptions and metaphysical distortion; reaching beyond the boundaries of what is “real”-a truly surrealist work.