At first, the painting reminded me of The Rapture, if the only people being saved were European businessmen; or an illustration of the 1983 song “It’s Raining Men.” But in Golconda, there is no indication of motion. Wearing bowler hats, suits, and apathetic expressions, the figures float, weightless, like specters.
The grid-like composition of the figures reminded me of the insistent order in my daily environment. I thought of the trees plotted along manicured lawns with a meticulous uniformity that, soon after seeing this image, would seem as laughably absurd as the floating men. Golconda does what Magritte does best: takes something ostensibly self-evident and renders it distant, mysterious, sometimes humorous. Here, it was an archetype I was all too familiar with—the male breadwinner, the suburban patriarch—made almost goofy.
My obsession with Magritte arose, fortuitously, around the same time my mom went to work at an airline, offering me the opportunity to travel anywhere at virtually no cost. Taken by these strange floating men, I ventured from Buffalo to Brussels and back, chasing down Magritte paintings I had only ever seen in books.