Fantasizing in the "Personal Values" panel

Fantasizing in the "Personal Values" panelFantasizing in the "Personal Values" panel

Personal Values/ 1952/ oil on canvas/ 77.5 x 100 cm/ Collection of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA

Deliberately changing the natural scale is very common in paintings. In religious paintings, many painters have deliberately made the figures of Christ or Mary Ezra bigger in order to increase their philosophical or religious importance.

But some painters use the change in scale deliberately to confuse or arouse our curiosity rather than clarifying the main point. Surrealism is a form of art based on contradictions or images that cannot be explained in logical terms. Artists who work in this way display the irrational world of dreams or nightmares (recognizable elements in impossible situations).

René Magritte's enigmatic painting "Personal Values" challenges the viewer with a confusion of scales. The various elements in this painting are easily recognized, but they are all shown with incorrect dimensions and strange proportions to each other. Does the painter here show a comb, brush, soap mold and other objects magnified to an impossible extent, or are these objects in their normal size, but arranged in a doll house? Neither of these explanations makes sense.

Any change in scale can become an element of fantasy, like the small door in Alice in Wonderland that Alice can't get through until she shrinks herself enough to do so.

Prepared and arranged by: Narges Saheb Ekhtiari