La Greca Magazine
It is a fact. Knokke succumbed to the Magritte craze in summer 2017. Shop owners, bank managers, hairdressers and in general most of us owning a display window, proudly accessorized it with the popular Magritte-inspired stickers! New Paris Londres impressed us with innovative, surrealistic shoe maquettes at the main store in Knokke. The Tourism Office managed to create traffic on the Facebook page by launching a photography contest. Isabelle Houthoofd – good friend and insightful hobby photographer – won with the composition seen below.
As an art lover, I had to smile at the sight of Magritte hat table lamps and cloud-print scarves with the artist's quotes and colorful mindset. As a pedagogue, I nodded with respect at the discovery of a children summer-read that introduced young minds into the world of surrealism with structured but enjoyable activities. The thought crossed my mind "People can become so creative in the prospect of profit... But then again, if something triggers inspiration and promotes education, is it necessarily a bad thing?"
We wanted to be part of the fad, but also share the experience of the revival. A tourist attraction? Perhaps, but then again not just. Knokkenaars were also intrigued to find out more about those days of - I do not like the term "lost", so I am choosing for – “past” glory with a redefined retro feel, and the famous Magritte Hall of the casino which is now relighting the flame by hosting the most glamorous events in the city.
The exclusive hall, whose walls were completely hand-painted by Magritte himself, recently opened for the private launch of our Knokke Actueel Magabook Summer Vibes and it is about to host the Scapa Beach Polo Gala this October - a 15-year anniversary first-time black-tie event organized by The Round Table Knokke. It also served as part of the "Magritte Experience" exposition that successfully ran throughout the summer. Having heard that it was quite an experience, I let myself indulge into the vivid explanation of the artist's work, with quite unusual contemporary technological means. The spectacular light and sound show on a 300-square-meter mural, the visit to the Magritte Hall, and – surprisingly – the 3D virtual reality goggles transferred us to an era where Knokke promised the impossible.
A modern Michelangelo who patiently balanced on his scaffold and meticulously adorned our modern temple of Chance and Dreams, or another Andy Warhol? Now the name “Magritte” has entered the realm of pop culture for real. His famous “Ceci n'est pas une pipe", as well as his iconic clouds and hat were borrowed by high- fashion brands such as Delvaux to adorn limited edition Brillants. PINKO’s tote bag and mini summer dress also prove the fascination with his art. Rene Magritte has almost become a mass product printed on T-shirts and cups, like Warhol's Coca-Cola bottles and duplicated seductive Marilyn Monroe images.
I wonder whether Magritte would appreciate this form of Ariana Grande adoration, were he among us to witness it. But the times do change. Had he been alive, the multi-faceted, ingenious, ahead-of-his-time Italian Renaissance master would now recognize that his Capella Sistina on postcards and touristic calendars is no more than the manifestation of its eternal value. Quite likely, so would Magritte.
Author: Marianna Lagakou - Van Zandweghe