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The everyman figure of the bowler-hatted man was used by Magritte as a pictorial cypher, moving between layers of reality. The present work is highly enigmatic and inventive. In Le Lieu Commun Magritte subverts the traditional genres of portrait and landscape painting and challenges our understanding of reality and representation; he plays with the viewer’s sense of what is real and what can be perceived. Uniquely we see this figure both in front of and behind the column so that he is at once revealed and obscured.