Hopefully you’re wide awake now and have been able to put thoughts of sleep far behind you. If that’s the case we’re going to bring those thoughts flooding back as we continue our look at Rene Margritte’s Reckles Sleeper, painted in 1928 and, as we pointed out in our earlier London walks art post greatly influenced by the works of Sigmund Freud.
Just to recap, the painting shows a figure in a box, over a grey area on which have been painted various symbols such as a candle and an apple, which, as we mentioned earlier, in Freudian dream symbolism could be a male phallic symbol (the candle) and a female symbol (the apple( representative of breasts.)
But it must be said that their is something slightly unnerving about Reckless Sleeper, something that seems to resonate with a feeling of dreadful unease. Because there is another possible interpretation to the painting.
The sleeping figure is in fact sleeping in a box which could, in fact, be a coffin, so the figure is not sleeping but is actually dead.
The grey area beneath could, therefore, be a tombstone and the items painted on to it be memories of the dead person’s living self, perhaps things he held dear to him in life.
Set against that context the dark background could be representative of the dark void of eternity, which could account for the feeling of unease that appears to emanate from the picture.
Set against that context there is a possibility that Reckless Sleeper is an autobiographical work in which Margritte is playing with reality and illusion whilst, at the same time exploring his own emotions and subconscious.
When he was thirteen his mother had committed suicide and so it has been suggested that Reckless Sleeper reflects the turmoil that he felt about this. It is the artist shifting back and forth between what he wishes – i.e his mother is alive – to what he knows to be the truth – i.e. his mother is dead. That might acount for the somewhat troubling and troubled aspect of the painting.
In our next post we’ll delve deeper into the Poetry and Dream wing at Tate Modern. So be sure to return later today to learn more on this wonderful Treasure of London.
Before you leave us, however, why not have a quick look at the other London walks we offer and see for yourself why our London is, as we like to say, a true Walk of Art.