Yesterday I visited the Rene Magritte exhibition The Mystery of the Ordinary at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was excellent. Aside from feeling particularly overwhelmed from seeing The Treachery of Images ‘live’, another image stood out.
Magritte’s painting The Phantom Landscape from 1928 is in many ways a classic portrait, yet the painting bears the word montagne (mountain) written in front of the woman’s face as if on a different plane to the three dimensional lifelike portrait. This discrepancy between word and image invites us to be creative in how we interpret meaning in the work. It is a tactic that has been employed by many artists since (particularly in contemporary performance practices) and it reminded me of the potential in playfully exploring the discord between words and images.