VIENNA, AUSTRIA.- The BA-CA Kunstforum presents the first comprehensive retrospective ever of the great Belgian painter René Magritte in Austria. Magritte's magic-conceptual use of images from the 1920s to 1960s overturns the conventional into the enigmatic in coded and startling associations. Moreover, they illustrate both his dialogue with Dada and Surrealism, and his key position as an inexhaustible source of creative inspiration for art after 1945, especially for Pop-art and Concept-art. Over 70 major works from international museums and numerous private collections rediscover an artist whose topicality is underlined even more by today's artistic developments.
Inspired by Giorgio de Chirico's poetic vision, in the mid-1920s Magritte worked his way to creating his first original pictures. Moulded by his initial bread-and-butter job as a commercial artist, Magritte chose from the very beginning an objective and descriptive manner of painting that negated any personal expression. Within terms of this deliberately »anonymous« painting, whose outer inconspicuousness reflects Magritte's withdrawn and absolutely ordinary private life, the painter establishes surreptitiously, as it were an almost perfidious alienation from scenes and objects that at first sight seem conventional and everyday.
Magritte lived in Paris from 1927 to 1930, mixing with the circle of surrealists surrounding André Breton. Here, affinity became tempered with his opposition to the group's revolutionary views. At the same time, the less radical group of Belgian surrealists joined forces in Brussels Magritte himself one of them which lasted until the 1960s. Back in Brussels in 1930 Magritte never left again apart from short visits to England, Paris, Italy and the United States he developed his enigmatic picture stories teetering at the edge of reality and in constantly new variants and obscure modes. Magritte plays with ill-matching proportions, incongruous juxtapositions and impossible object locations. Through this he seeks as he does in his entire oeuvre to awaken a second, coded reality behind things. »....since my intention was fixed on trying to make the most familiar objects wail out like sirens, I naturally had to topple over the order in which objects are generally arranged ... Regarding the mystery, the enigma that my pictures were, I wish to say that this was the best proof of my break with the totality of absurd thinking habits, which generally substitute a genuine feeling ofexistence.« (René Magritte, Lifeline I, 1938).