I’ve been reading a book about the foundations of Dada and Surrealism. I haven’t gotten very far, since each page is loaded with information to process, as one attempts a translation of the visual workings of the brain into something coherent and legible. The two art movements are often lumped into the same category due to their close relations of “anti-art” and avant-garde nature, and of the time the purveyors of the movement sought to move on from the bourgeois interest in art of life as we see it, and into something unconscious and socio-politically driven. The book mentions how Surrealism was born out of Dada, and though similar their goals they were achieved through different ways, ways which have influenced our own perceptions today in how we approach visuals with both images and words.
Sometimes such topics are better explained with a picture book – a sign of the times and Instagram generation perhaps. I first saw René Magritte’s work when the luxury brand Stefano Ricci had paid homage to him in 2011. One of the first interviews I ever conducted was with their Head of Marketing in China (and one I’ve sadly lost) and they’d given me a big lookbook with reinvented images. Magritte is probably most well known for his painting ‘The Son of Man’, which is the self-portrait of Magritte in a bowler hat, with an apple levitating in front of his face. It’s got enough depth that you keep trying to peer around it, and his eyes are poking out ever so slightly that with whatever logic you think you MIGHT actually see a little more. It’s like a reverse of those paintings with the eyes that follow you.
The watch brand Komono have collaborated with the Estate of René Magritte to celebrate the Belgian’s work. Some of the artist’s paintings have been adapted to fit the watch straps, and as a result there are some quite odd colours, which is quite fitting for the collaboration. They’ve created some inspired artwork for the lookbook, which has all the telltales of Magritte’s influence through blue skies and bowler hats, and subtle hints to some of the product’s mirrored faces which reflects the artwork around them.
We went to Belgium for a private tour of a gallery hosting the majority of Magritte’s work. Surrealism is something best left explained through visual rather than through words, as most of the work is created through what we see in our dreams and not in The Matrix. It was lovely to see dozens and dozens of his work, and while the tour guide was very, very knowledgeable, it seems a little odd for someone to explain to you what is meant to be the unexplainable. I am by no means an art connoisseur but I love the idea that art should be for all, and for those to appreciate and understand it through their own thought processes.
I love the ideas behind Dada and Surrealism, and feel as though we as a generation are on the cusp of something revolutionary as well. There’s a lot of lukewarm and mundane work being done, yet there’s so much to talk about now that the young have become aware of their political surroundings. I think we should always use our work (or artforms, whatever you want to call it) to continue the conversation of society with those around us.
The collaboration is available online now on the Komono site. Thanks for the Belgian fun times.