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Dalì and Magritte visit Brussels' Royal museum of fine arts

During a short holiday in the magnificent city of Bruxelles, I had the fantastic opportunity to visit a temporary exhibition focused on the comparison of the surrealism styles of Dalì and Magritte, two of the most influential artists of the past century.

The title of the exposition, "Dalí & Magritte: Deux icônes du surréalisme en dialogue", underlines the dialogue that subsists between the masterpieces of these icons, that painted differently, yet with many similarities, maybe invisible at a first glance.

Four creative rooms

At the beginning of the tour, four rooms were arranged for the creative expression of the visitors. The goal was stimulating them in finding sensations and impressions to create new art. The surrealist idea of art is based on the inspiration that comes from unconsciousness, dreams and the state between sleep and wakefulness.

For instance, Magritte told once that one day he woke up in a room where there was a cage with a bird inside, but for some deception of the mind caused by the awakening state, he thought for a second that the bird was a egg, and immediately associated the integrity of the egg shell with a cage.

Art in the surrealism form can result as well from an unraveling work over reality, that hides mysteries under its surface. As Dalì did by looking constantly to the rocks of his beloved shores. By staring at them, he found strange shapes that attracted his attention, that revealed or at least suggested something mysterious that was being evoked in its subconscious by them. The purpose of the first four rooms of the exhibition were to make people feel that something was happening in their minds after an external stimulation, and that this "something" can become the abstract working material to create art. I think this is the simplest and most immediate way to make visitors understand what surrealism is.

Inside the artists' minds

While Magritte prefer the drowsiness as an artistic inspirational state of mind, Dalì relies more on dreams. This subtle difference can be easily found in their creations, but with key differences: Dalì really bases his art on hallucinations and brings to extremes the anguish and distress displayed in the paintings, using strange and mushy shapes and strange figures. On the other side, Magritte always inserts logical forms and volumes, solid and quite common objects in unreal places and atmospheres. For some reason, Magritte seems to me more comprehensible and logical than Dalì: probably, this is a result of the Dutch way of perceiving surrealism paintings, always created after a precise planning of how the piece should result; a method that consciously takes the distances from Breton's indications over surrealism.

By confronting the two styles of painting, I realized that Magritte's way of leading the viewers into their own mind is to represent real or almost real objects, faces and places mixing them variously to create a suspended atmosphere of reflection and self-analysis, while Dalì create infinite landscapes where new objects and figures appear continuously, and where the viewer loses his mind seeking for his deeper self.

When I look Dalì's landscapes, I feel like being in a state of trance, where I materialize inside the painting and start to move into it, continuously changing the landscape I'm walking into without never finding a end, or a sense, to what I'm looking at. To say it differently, Dalì seems to tell me that the research of my inner core is always never ending, as an infinite walk inside my subconscious, while Magritte apparently suggests that I just need to sit and contemplate his paintings, and myself, to access my internal thoughts.

This exhibition definitely made my day, and left me with a great sense of peace, and with a lot of stimulus to reflect further on the sense of things.

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