The Son of Man was painted in 1964 as a self-portrait of the Belgian surrealist painter himself – René Magritte. Now, why would anybody paint over a face of a perfectly painted man? When asked about the explanation behind such a depiction of obscurity, Magritte had said, “Everything we see hides another thing; we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”
I can probably talk for a good hour about this painting. Initially, I disliked it. It seemed a bit too… what’s the word? Not exactly but can I say: detached? Though with time, the painting – and the surrealism – it grows on you. Imagine the painting without the green object in the center. It’d be too conventional; the good old portrait would end up in an attic of a wealthy family somewhere in suburbia. But paint a green apple over the man’s face and you’ve got surrealism, complicated interpretations, and psychological aesthetic analysis all happening simultaneously.
What is it about human nature and curiosity? Why do we feel distant and overwhelmed when things do not appear familiar (the apple)? The painting appears to be almost perfectly symmetrical. But the longer you stare at it, you begin to notice the unbalanced positions of the arms, the theme of light and shadow, the contrast between the cloudy sky and the still horizon of water. What does the eye peeking through the apple symbolize? The man appears to be physically flawless even with the apple covering his face.
Often times when I take my friends to art museums I would hear them agonizing over the fact that they can’t “see art” or they “don’t know how to” enjoy it. Art is art. There is no right or wrong approach. Either you like it or you don’t. The difference lies in whether you give it a thorough assessment. The general population always, always misinterpret the essence of enjoying art as categorizing them into good or bad. Hell, art has nothing to do with good or bad. Who has the right to judge somebody else’s imaginations and creativity?
The secret of enjoying art is… well I’d write it in this entry (mostly because this blog was created without the intent of having any readers) but the last time I shared a personal-something, I found out that a low-life scumbag had copy-pasted it and made it into hers. So, for now… the secret will be kept with me. Like the ambiguous face behind the green apple.