Magritte at Tate Liverpool

This exhibition, The Pleasure Principle, has all the favourites – the bowler-hatted ordinary men raining down over the houses, the train coming through the fireplace, the pipe (the one that is not), the daylight darkness (the streetlights shine whilst the sky is  bright and blue), the couple kissing shrouded from one another, etc.

In all, it took about 3 hours to go round the whole exhibition. To a painting, they are mostly familiar. One possible exception is the gallery with examples of his commercial work – artwork to advertise cigarettes, fashion, theatre and cinema posters. Some of the motifs are visible, but not quite so strident. Rarely was he political. Though he did depict the Belgian fascist leader, Léon Degrelle, looking into a handheld mirror (one of Magritte’s motifs) and seeing Adolf Hitler. And on only one occasion is a picture with a grey sky depicted; again a scene from the war.

Equally unfamiliar are the home movies that he made with his wife and other members of the surrealist movement in Brussels. Their playfulness is enchanting as they do strange things, using their bodies as objects for Magritte’s moving art (he was not a very good cameraman; reassuringly, the movies are no better than the ones I made on Super 8 when I was 10 years old).

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