Rene Magritte, the man who spent many years working as a commercial artist, eventually gained popularity from his unusual approach to surrealism. His long experience in painting possibly honed his skills, making him one of the most popular Belgian artists of his time. Before his death, he had created many strangely fascinating paintings including Young Girl Eating A Bird.
Young Girl Eating A Bird (Pleasure) is a symbolic oil on canvas painting which Rene created in 1927. The image is a horrifying tale of a young girl tearing through a bird with her teeth, blood spattering all over. She has her back against a tree on which three more birds have perched. It is not clear whether the birds are aware of the grim misfortune that has befallen their friend – they should have flown away in terror. It is even more disturbing that the girl seems to find pleasure in ripping through the raw flesh of the unfortunate bird.
Rene’s cynical view of the modern world
Rene's painting may be horrendous, but it does thrust to the fore a powerful message. The young girl derives pleasure from the agony of the creature while its mates watch helplessly. In the modern world, many of things that give pleasure to people also hurt others. It is even worse that nobody cares for the other, just like the birds seem unconcerned by the atrocity unfolding nearby. Through this painting, Rene seems to be questioning the essence of modernity, and whether it has made life any better for the common man.
Rene and the school of surrealism
The painting, Young Girl Eating A Bird (Pleasure) is a perfect embodiment of the Belgian-born artist’s equivocal approach to surrealism. Unlike other artists of the time, Rene presents fantasy, but in a manner that shocks the audience into the harsh reality, they have learned to ignore. The capitalistic nature of world economies has forced people to live off the sweat and blood of others.
Rene Magritte is among those artists viewed with both admiration and disdain. His depiction of a young girl tearing into a bird mercilessly may draw ire but resonates well with many who are familiar with the struggles and challenges of modern life. His contribution to art, nevertheless, was immense.