Enter the Upside Down World of the Surrealist Greats

Much like Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, the world of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte revels in the freedom of imagination and experience. And this really is your chance to pull up a seat at the table just in time for tea, as in a new exhibition, the exhibition of Dalí and Margritte at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, the two scions of surrealism are seen together for the first time.

With over 100 pieces on show, the paintings, sculpture, drawings and film here deftly illustrate two paths as interwoven as they are distinct. Open now until February 2020, this distinctly Belgian hanging celebrates both the connection and conflict of these surrealists in Magritte’s hometown, making for a fascinating and often unnerving look at a movement shrouded in the turbulent events of the early 20th century.


From sexuality and love to the politics of war, no topic is off the table as we see key works from Dalí and Magritte’s exploration of form turn reality on its head. While there are no melting clocks or faceless men in bowler hats here, the exhibition cleverly takes us deeper into the world of the two men who started out friends, holidaying together in Cadaqués, but ended up at odds, pulled apart by Dalí’s quick success and Magritte’s jealousy at the slow pace of his own commercial success and critical acclaim.


Still, despite not always seeing eye to eye, this exhibition is clear proof that their work not only influenced one another, but continued to push the genre into new realms. And that’s what is so pleasing about this exhibition: thanks to privately owned pieces rarely seen publicly before, we’re able to clearly see the connection and subsequent fragmentation of the two powerhouses side by side. Recurrent themes and philosophies are made obvious, pushing back the velvet curtain and allowing you to get up close to every vivid sky, arid landscape and monstrous subversion of the human form.


Ceci n’est pas un pipe – but, for anyone seeking to better understand surrealism, this exhibition is the perfect way to bask in the frenetic world of two of the movements greatest visionaries.

Dalí & Magritte is on show at the Royal Museums of Fine Art of Belgium in Brussels now. For more information about the life of Rene Magritte, visit the museum at his home in Jette (20 minutes from the centre of Brussels).