Sunday, 8 August 2010

Surrealism and public transport

Clearly, I'm not the only one who thinks that trams, trains, ships, planes and buses embody characteristics of the uncanny. When visiting the 'Another World: Dalí, Magrite, Miró and the Surrealists' exhibition at the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh (, my attention was drawn to a large canvas by Paul Delvaux, depicting a Brussels tramcar clanking and groaning round a bend in a rather eerily deserted street, observed only by a number of mannequin-like nudes. The tram's bug-like front end features and slightly phallic quality as it protrudes from a street corner add to the sense of weirdness, as does the juxtaposition of shop windows, housing, a cleared development site and factories.

Delavaux once observed of trams and trains that 'these things come from my childhood... they have an intense sense of life; they are things which are an integral part of daily life, things that people use but don't see...'

I think that he was spot-on.

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