"Impressions of Africa" is a misleading title as Dali never visited the country; the title is taken from a play by Raymond Roussel, who was greatly admired for his double meanings - the literal equivalent of Dali's double visual images. In the background, there are groups of figures clustered together; several are double images or visual illusions. Gala's face is the most dominant image; she appears ghostly, her eyes formed by the dark arches of the building behind her.
In the foreground of the painting is Dali, one hand reaching out toward the viewer; he has used a foreshortening technique here so that his arm appears almost in 3D. He was greatly interested in techniques that enabled him to create a feeling of space, distance, and depth. During 1938, Dali was traveling in Italy, ostensibly to study the great Italian artist's techniques. His face is only partially visible and it is in shadow so that the one staring eye that we can see appears msore distinct. Dali wanted to give an impression of extreme concentration, to convey the idea that he is trying to "see like a medium"; to capture subliminal images to be recorded on his easel.