As important as what we choose to show in art, is what we do not. The parts of composition we do not see can be even more significant than what is already revealed. Using hidden elements is more than a visual trick, it is a way to construct the sense of something beyond the limits of the picture. Giorgio de Chirico, Italian metaphysical painter and predecessor to the surrealist art movement, used this method to create the haunting atmospheres in his paintings. His scheme was first inspired by Giacomo Leopardi and his poetry of the unknown — the sense of mystery of the hidden18. De Chirico’s enigmas are made of implied spaces — acknowledged, but unseen — hidden behind curtains or walls, or situated just beyond the area of the image, indefinitely out of reach. The viewer will never know, but looks for it all the more.
The same sense of enigma is evident in the more recent works by Andrey Tarkovsky. Stalker (1979), filmed in various derelict locations, old factories and deserted power plants, creates a haunting feeling inside an abandoned human environment, emphasising its emptiness, its vastness, leaving the core of its mystery untouched. Tarkovsky implies, but never clarifies the meaning of his work, and thereby retaining its potential for interpretation. What remains undefined, has the possibility to be anything we want to see.