Victor Brauner, “The Surrealist” (1947)
Victor Brauner’s “Surrealist” is presented as a conjurer ready to do his tricks within a mad and undecipherable world. The instruments of his craft appear scattered upon a strange, half – animate table, objects that one would normally expect to find either in a magician’s tool box or in a priest’s case. Across his oversized, eccentric hairdo the symbols of the Beginning and the End, an aleph and a lemniscate, appear as an attempt to convey some metaphysical, enigmatic message. Brauner’s painting, evidently inspired by the tarot card of the “magician”, bears the mark of the painter’s keen interest in the occult yet the association of the painting to a surrealist transforms the composition into a mathematical rebus, alluding to “Cantor’s paradise” and, by a quite remarkable concurrence, to John Horton Conway’s “surreal numbers“.