The Light and Dark Side of Magic Realism

Over the weekend I enjoyed a little stage art. My daughter and I saw The Illusionists, a Broadway show featuring six different magicians specializing in different types of magic- we saw The Daredevil, who did Houdini-esque stunts, The Elusive (now you see it, now you don’t!), The Sleight of Hand guy (he had a fancier name), etc. My favorite was the Mentalist, and not just because he wore suspenders and a bow tie. With tons of practice I could at least understand the other magicians, but he left me totally confounded. The only explanation is that he really was magic!

Magic realism was never my favorite kind of art, but now I’m torn, like a girl sawed in half. It is often such dark art, like this self-portrait by Ivan Albright (ages ago I posted about his painting in the Chicago Institute of Art, That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do):

I admire it. There’s no denying Albright’s talent, but his stuff is a little dark for me. Most magical realism is. But then I see something like this by Canadian artist Rob Gonsalves, and I swing like a hypnotist’s watch and LOVE magical realism!

This (tree)tops all.

Wikipedia cites Matthew Stretcher defining magical realism as, “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.” Like the time I saw a guy give a pufferfish CPR and it came back to life, maybe? Have you ever experienced anything too strange to believe? What about the Spanish magician who announced he was going to disappear? “Uno!” he exclaimed, “Dos!” And then he vanished!!! Without a tres.  

Leave a Reply