René Magritte was part of a movement of avant-garde artists and writers in Brussels and in 1925 became aware of Surrealism in Paris.
Dreams were important to the surrealists and this painting exemplifies the use of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams. See how the sleeper looks as if he is asleep in some sort of a box? If he is asleep, then these symbols could be showing us his dreams.
The symbols could also be thoughts as they are embedded in a lead shape looks like a human head.
Or, is it a tombstone, and these symbols tells us of a life?
The’re many layers to this painting.
The symbols are unrelated and it is the difference between them that gives us space to see their relationship.
‘Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream by night.’
Edgar Allan Poe