Dear friend,

as I may have told you before, I love surrealism, and especially surrealist paintings. The picture above, L’empire des lumières external link to Wikipedia , by René Magritte is one of my favourite paintings, so much so that I have a small print of it in my living room.

It is also one of the most famous works of art in the exhibition IMAGINE! - 100 Years of International Surrealism external link , which opened a couple of weeks ago at the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique.

Of course I went and visit it as soon as possible, and I thought of sharing with you some of my favourite discoveries from that exhibition. Sorry for the horrible photos, which I took myself, at the same time trying not to annoy other visitors! For each of the paintings, there is a link to a better version I found online.

Giorgio De Chirico, La mélancolie d’une belle journée, 1913
Giorgio De Chirico, La mélancolie d’une belle journée, 1913

One of the artists I love the most, Giorgio De Chirico, and one of his immensely fascinating ‘Italian squares’. His lonely characters always inspire a sense of peaceful reflection. Here you can find a smaller, but complete, version of the painting.

Toyen, Minuit, l'heure blasonnée, 1961

First of the artists I didn’t know or noticed before, the Czech painter external link to Wikipedia Toyen and her sensual ghost story in the form of a painting. I love the beast on the left: probably a yawning lion, but maybe a spectral empty hood (you can see a complete picture here external link ).

Marion Adnams, A Candle of Understanding in Thine Heart, 1964

Another work from the sixties, by Marion Adnams (wiki external link to Wikipedia ): an empty big-stoney-heart surrounded by much more empathic snails. The exit sign reflection just on top is my own involuntary contribution to the opera. A better version and a short explanatory paragraph here external link .

Méret Oppenheim, Daphne and Apollo, 1943

Only now, while writing to you, I realise my discoveries from this exhibition are all female painters. What I liked of Méret Oppenheim’s (wiki external link to Wikipedia ) Daphne and Apollo is that the two characters seem to be prevented from touching because of their heads/foliage intertwining. This is somehow faithful to the Greek myth, where Daphne turns into a laurel tree to escape the god’s unwanted attentions, but I prefer to see in it two souls who don’t need to touch, because they are perfectly connected through their ideas. Full picture here external link .

Dorothea Tanning, A Very Happy Picture, 1947

Some surrealist paintings present a lot of elements that don’t immediately make sense together, but after a few moments start telling a story or forming a coherent picture. The works by Dorothea Tanning (here’s her official website external link , which also offers a much better photo external link - though, without the ’exit sign’) seem to fall in this category. Honestly when I took the photo I didn’t realise there is a child sitting on the suitcases, who probably fully explains the ‘very happy picture’ title. In my initial interpretation, this was a much less happy scene, the temporary separation of a couple at a train station - something that relates so much to my personal experience.

Victor Brauner, Psychological Space, 1939

I first ‘met’ Victor Brauner (wiki external link to Wikipedia ) a dozen years ago, I think at the Guggenheim in Venice, when I was struck by his Chimera . Shortly afterwards, I lost the note where I had written down his name, and I wasn’t able to remember it, nor to find the painting online (also, another work of his has the same name, which didn’t help). But I immediately recognised him in his Psychological Space (from the same year, and very similar to it). I still prefer Chimera. An uncensored version is available here external link - if you scroll down to the end and don’t have an ad blocker; unfortunately, Brauner is not the most beloved artist on the internet.

Judit Reigl, Ils ont soif insatiable de l'infini, 1950

Finally, I say goodbye to you by joining this mixed group of screaming/singing creatures by Judit Reigl (wiki external link to Wikipedia ), better experienced on the official website external link dedicated to her works.