Grelots roses, ciels en lambeaux (Pink Bells, Tattered Skies)

René Magritte

Lessines, Belgium, 1898 - Anderlecht, Belgium, 1967

One of the main elements that appear in the works of René Magritte is the bell, a recurring icon in his output that mysteriously evokes the painter’s infancy and which would later become part of the range of symbolic elements in his work. Grelots roses, ciels en lambeaux (Pink Bells, Tattered Skies, 1930), is one of the paintings in which Magritte used this symbol, alongside another of his favourite motifs, clouds. As in other Magritte paintings where these “silent bells” appear, these ones are physically floating in the air, occupying one half of the painting, free of their weight, their function and their usual scale, which gives them an unreal appearance that emphasises their oneiric power. This is also helped by an almost photographically accurate technique, which seems to freeze the image in time and space.
The other half of the scene (the painting is divided into two equal areas) is occupied by a sky full of fluffy cloud formations, in stark contrast to the stately definition of the area taken by the round bells. The chromatic difference – bright blue for the cloudy background and electric salmon pink for the bells’ space – contributes to the general feeling of perplexity and uneasiness emanating from the picture, such as happens with the best executed Surrealist visions.

Paloma Esteban Leal