Saturday, 9 June 2007

HELLO DALI

I spent a fascinating evening wandering through an intriguing new exhibition at Tate Modern devoted to Dalí & Film.

Again and again, I found myself being enticed out of a series of clinically white-walled rooms hung with classic examples of Salvador Dalí's extraordinary Surrealist vista-visions and optical illusions only to be instantly plunged into pitch-dark spaces where I was confronted by the flickering screen images of such grossly disturbing paraphernalia as severed hands, razored eyeballs, scurrying ants and dead donkeys from the shocking collabortions between Dalí and his fellow Spanish enfant terrible, Luis Buñuel.

As well as providing a rare oppotunity to view those terrifying Buñuel-Dalí avant-garde masterpieces, L'Age d'Or and Un Chien Andalou...


...the exhibition traces Dalí's early fascination with cinema and his later, less likely, filmmaking forays in company with two of Holywood's Masters of daydreams and nightmares.

For Alfred Hitchcock, Dalí created the famous dream sequence in Spellbound (1945) , starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman...


...and the same year Dalí joined forces with Walt Disney (whom Dalí called "a great American Surrealist") to make a film, entitled Destino, which was later abandoned, but finally brought to the screen in 2003 through persistence of vision on the part of Walt's nephew, Roy E Disney.


A powerful and evocative exhibition I thought of still-and-moving pictures, but Dalí dreams are not, it seems, for everyone...

Pausing before a typical Dalíesque landscape scattered with crumbling arches, soft watches, skipping girls and phallic fingers of rock, I heard one tired-looking lady saying to to another...

"...Yes, well, I think I really like the kind of art I can understand..."

17 comments:

Boll Weavil said...

Yes, I'm afraid I agree with that last comment.At least I think I do because I've never actually found any yet.....

Brian Sibley said...

BOLL WEAVIL - What NONE? Not a single picture? Not even Constable's 'The Hay Wain'? I don't believe you!

I can see why people say that they don't "understand" some modern art including Dali (although I think a better way of trying to respond is to go for "feelings" rather than "understanding"), but what is there to "understand" about purely representational art - a portrait by Rembrandt, a group of dogs by Landseer, a view of Venice by Canaletto?

Surely, like a photograph, such paintings either engage your interest or they don't - "What a fascinating face (or place)!" or "I know somebody just like that!" --- on the most basic level - "How bloody clever to be able to paint something that looks exactly like a real sky!"

So, is there really not a single drawing, painting or piece of sculpture that you feel you can "understand" or just "enjoy"?

David Weeks said...

Boll Weavil's comment reminds me of an ex-sister-in-law, who shall remain nameless. Having been shown a variety of artwork that adorned the walls of my home, she declared in response to the question, "What do you think?"

"Art is all right, if you like that kind of thing,"

Brian Sibley said...

GILL writes...

I agree with you Brian. I don't think the enjoyment of art is about the ability to do some kind of intellectual analysis [though this may be because I'm not clever enough to do it!].

I think it comes down to, "Does this stimulate some kind of response in me?"

If it does, whether it is elation, sadness, intrigue or even revulsion, then I guess the job is done!

Boris Hiestand said...

I didn't know Dali had anything to do with the eye slitting film... crazy.

Definitely on my to do list!

About the art discussion- Dali has always fascinated me, even though I've never seen a single image of his I actually like.
Being repulsed by art is also a reaction to it!

Good Dog said...

I didn't know that WDA actually finished Destino. Roy E. goes back up in my opinion, having sagged after his behaviour at the Fantasia 2000 RAH screening.

Got to say, I like the Dali images that play merry hell with your perception - such as the first image in the post - but as for the floppy watches and elephants...

I suppose if the Athena posters hadn't been everywhere when I was a student it might be different. I probably would prefer a view of Venice by Canaletto or Turner.

Brian Sibley said...

BORIS - When you say:

"I didn't know Dali had anything to do with the eye slitting film... crazy.

Definitely on my to do list!"

WHAT is? The exhibition, the film - or eye-slitting?

GOOD DOG - I agree that (thanks to the goddess of posters) Dali has become a cliche... What is difficult to do (as with any art that was once avant-garde) is to try and view it must have been seen at the time, but Dali's art and Bunuel's films must have seemed so incredibly shocking in their day...

Boll Weavil said...

In my business, I've come across a lot of people who don't 'get' poetry so Im not suprised at my own lack of interest or understanding about art.I don't particularly look at the modern stuff but even the older, more traditional, work passes me by. Yes, I can certainly acknowledge an artists technical ability and having visited several of the sites where Vermeer painted his landscapes, I can see why it attracts people. I have to confess though, that I've never felt for a work of art, the feeling that I've had when reading Coleridge or Dryden or Tennyson. It just doesn't strike me in the same way.

Boris Hiestand said...

sorry for being unclear Brian-
it's the eye slitting that's on my to do list, right after eating spinach in Korea with a fork lift truck.

perhaps when I've done those things I'll see the exhibition...

Elliot said...

I was down that way today and enjoyed the big Dali sculptures.
I do not like Dali one bit and was in the area to see the completely worthless Star Wars exhibition.
Exiting the tube at Archway I found a rude word scrawled on a piece of cardboard which brought me much mirth.
There's a picture of all three things (Star Wars, Dali and rude word) on my own blog if anyone cares.

Brian Sibley said...

ELLIOT - Thanks and while they're there, I'd recommend they watch your latest adventure of Boxhead & Roundhead, which I loved!

Elliot said...

Cheers Brian.
Very nice of you to say so.

Brian Sibley said...

Not at all, I meant it - I love the whole series...

Boris Hiestand said...

you two should be lovers...

Brian Sibley said...

BORIS - Well, of course, I can't speak for Elliot...............

Elliot said...

Even better!
Tell all your friends.
About the whole series, not the lovers thing.

Brian Sibley said...

ELLIOT - We just DID...

BORIS & ELLIOT - Are you two boys ALWAYS mean to each other?? ;-)