La Clef des songes (Key of Dreams), 1930 by René Magritte, oil on canvas.
“The painting contains images and words that had mused Magritte for around 10 years or so, perhaps under the influence of surrealism, as the young painter was in search for the fulcrum of his premier theories. And yet surrealism was essentially a literary movement. Writers and poets were those to found its law. Guillaume Apollinaire had idealized the art of calligraphy along with the friends of André Breton. But as Michel Foucault remarked in Magritte’s famous painting, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, Magritte had tried his best to dismantle the calligraphy. In his rebus painting, both the text and the image coexist in lines with an appalling difference. They dissociate. But in which sense does the image of an egg titled the word “Acacia” fit in? For a moment, we attempt to automatically withhold the effect of writing that Breton thoroughly enjoyed, yet Magritte actually favored the floating of sense through the free association between the image and the word. “La Clef des songes” then becomes an apology to non-sense. However, the rebus is considered a “tableau-problème” (like a detective novel), destined to associate the viewer with a different quest on the sense of it. For example, if the egg represents an immaculate ovum, something resembling the dawn of the first germination of life, the word “acacia”, containing mainly letters “A” and “C”, is as the dawn of language, in other words, the alphabet. All in all, this painting is an enigma perhaps inspired by the young Magritte like how the Sphinx does to us - a way to withdraw an impossible, prohibited, horrible, and even obscene image. A jellyfish, for instance. “
- Beaux Arts Hors-Série N°3, “Ceci est Magritte” (trans.)