The Blank Signature
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This painting is one of Magritte’s most proper optical illusions. This image of “occlusion” – where one image is hidden by another – shows a woman on horseback through the woods. A vertical segment of the rider and horse is rendered invisible where the two trees separate to reveal the woodland background. One of the hind legs of the horse appears simultaneously in front of and behind a tree which plays tricks on our sense of perspective. Magritte has painted this illusion in fine, painterly detail, emphasising the illusion itself by making its components as naturalistic as possible. Without the visual trickery, this piece would be a calm woodland scene; the horse trots elegantly and the rider (in formal attire) is poised and in pastel tones which suit the muted colours of the woods. Magritte’s ability to hide the illusionistic in the realistic is mastered in this painting. The title “The Blank Figure” or “unlimited power” suggests the power of the artist to change reality.