Another artist whose presence would have shifted our viewing of Magritte is Aimé Ntakiyica, a Burundian multi-media artist who resides in Magritte’s Belgium. Ntakiyica has recast Magritte’s bowler-hatted Everyman with his own visage, thereby upsetting any easy reading.
In a European “Union” driven by riots, sectarian conflict and nationalist resurgence, what does it now mean for a pan-European identity when a black face stands for the Euro-everyman? (Incidentally, in 1937 Magritte began four works of fragmented body parts, each entitled ‘The White Race’. While, as is typical with Magritte, there is no immediate correspondence between the title and the work, the significance here is the fragmentation of the body, and hence of identity.)
Ntakiyica’s motivation is the revision of our sense of history and to impress upon us that art, no matter how seemingly innocuous, functions within a social context. Ntakiyica also points us to the “images of racial mystery” within Magritte’s work, and these, for me, are where Magritte draws most interest and relevance.