Bauhaus & Beyond: The Treachery of Images

The Treachery of Images, painted by Rene Magritte, is a painting of a pipe with the words “This is not a pipe” in French written below it. The contradiction created in this piece of work reminds me of Buddhism and their teaching on the nature of reality and its illusions. While similar in concept, they also have an introspective quality to it.

“This is not a pipe; this is a painting of a pipe.” vs “This is not a flower; this is a manifestation of a flower.”

From both of these ideas, we see how the writer/artist breaks down the processes of the human mind. In order to understand the complexity of reality, our mind simplifies the information we percieve and then creates a shortcut. So when we see a flower, we immediately label it as flower. However, if we look even closer, the flower is actually not a flower at all but a combination of many different elements creating a phenomenon which we call flower.

This method of observation is not about disecting the object but about how we perceive reality and how we use concepts to understand it. The painting by Rene Magritte is an effective example of how we can make the viewer take a step back to think about what they are seeing/smelling/feeling etc. and how they percieve reality.

A few writers online have also been comparing Surrealism and Zen Buddhism, their similarities, differences and how one might have been influence by the other.

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