"I don't do drugs. I am drugs. Take me, I am hallucinogenic."- Salvador Dali
against spinach, and for snails.
against the sun, and for the moon
against skepticism, and for folly
against philosophy, and for religion
against medicine, and for magic
The "Dali Universe" exhibition in London reminds me, once again, why this eccentric genius is one of my favorite artists.
...It is good taste, and good taste alone, that possesses the power to sterilize and is always the first handicap to any creative functioning ...
is honored at the South Bank exhibition. Divided into three themed areas (Sensuality and Femininity, Religion and Mythology, Dreams and Fantasy), the exhibit showcases his sculpture, graphics, jewelry, furniture and watercolors. One connecting hall between sections is a black tunnel lined with spiraling DNA structures, lit with a black light, and sprinkled with glowing clusters of red, blue, and pink globes.
Sculptures of women with drawers opening from various parts of their bodies stand beside a female bust, with ants on the neck and a baguette balanced on the head. Down the stairs, I sneak into the Picasso exhibit, the favorite part of which wasn't the ceramics or ink portraits, but the black and white photos of the artist at work, climbing ladders and mixing paints.
Then, unexpectedly, I come upon the base of a gigantic oil painting that extends up through to the second floor. (I am partial to large canvases to begin with. One of my favorite canvases is at the Art Institute of Chicago: Georgia O'Keefe's "View from Sky", which is virtually impossible to move for exhibition elsewhere because of its size.) This canvas, however, is even more striking, since it portrays a surreal view of the subconscious. Bearing the name "Spellbound" (and used in the Hitchcock movie by the same name), this famous oil painting portrays bulging eyes peering out from draped tapestries suspended from a night sky, and a full moon in the background which bears the mark of a former encircling band.
Dali's work has an effect on me like the work of no other. For years, when I was able to regularly visit the National Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., I made the pilgrimage to Dali's "The Last Supper". I must have visited that oil painting a dozen times over the course of 20 years. Originally, the painting hung in the lobby area, but after is death in 1989, it was moved to a special room.
But I digress. Back to Spellbound, the haunting painting that stopped me dead in my tracks last week in London. I was drawn to fall onto those gigantic eyelids, to stand behind those eyelashes, to climb into the canvas and hang suspended by the cords of the subconscious. Retinas, masquera, dreams, the moon, the cosmos: a crazy mix of serenity (accepting what is, not unlike surrender) and chaos.
There, in that British museum, I was jolted by something rare, something surreal, something out-of-this-world. It was a crazy acid trip.
Dali was right. He is the hallucinogen.