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Salvador Dali: great thinker, visionary or delirious madman.


Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”. One of many famous works on view at Inside Dali

Inside Dali

Spark Arena, Auckland

Until June 30

Then

Air Force Museum, Christchurch

July 14 – August 26

Reviewed by

With the new exhibition “Inside Dali” at Auckland‘s Spark Arena the remarkable life and the full range of work by the artist is on view.

Following hot on the heels of two previous multi-media exhibitions –  “Van Gogh Alive” (also at Spark Arena) last year and “Michelangelo – A Different View” at the Aotea Centre earlier this year comes “Inside Dali”, a multi-sensory insight into some of Salvador Dali’s famous art works.

Dali was the supreme artist of the 20th century not just because of his instantly recognisable  melting clocks, surrealist figures and objects but in his ability to create his persona  as the celebrity artist.

Where most artists are valued for their individual artworks, Dali brings to mind the man himself with his remarkable flaring moustache, his glaring face and outlandish poses. He is also one of the most enigmatic artists of the  20th century – was his art the expression of a great thinker, that of a visionary or was it the outpouring of a delirious madman.

He combined an extraordinary artistic talent along with showmanship, intellect and wit, gaining publicity not so much for the art as his own behaviour and comments on art and life.

He was not only a surrealist painter as he experimented with other art forms as well. He worked with Luis Bunuel on the films “Un Chien Andalou”, and “L’Age d’Or” which were banned in France for their sexual imagery.

He also worked with Alfred Hitchcock on “Spellbound” and later collaborated with Walt Disney on the animated film  “Destino”, a film they started in 1945 but which was not released until 2003.

There are several rooms in the exhibition providing information about the artist’s life, his relationships with other artist as well as Gala, his wife of nearly fifty years.

Gala features in many of the artists paintings

The exhibition provides a journey through the artists life in photographs, text and  reproductions of his works as well as immersive visual rooms. Throughout there are several themes which preoccupied the artist – notions of time, sexuality and death.

In addition to Freudian imagery—staircases, keys, dripping candles—he also used a host of his own symbols, which had special, usually sexual, significance to him alone: the grasshoppers that once tormented him, ants, and crutches, and he saw  William Tell as his father figure.

One room is showing his rarely seen controversial set of prints illustrating  Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”, a surrealist tour of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory combining the sinister with the sensual.

There is  the Mirror Room where viewers will be exposed to Dali’s surrealist work in a 360-degree setting. Here we encounter major works such as ”Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening” where two tigers leap over the naked body of Gala”, a work filled with Freudian sexual imagery.

“Dali” speaks to the viewers

Central to the show is a large room where the artist’s works are projected floor-to-ceiling in high-resolution moving imagery. It is an immersive experience which provides a sense of Dali’s hallucinogenic dreamscape filled with sexual, political and religious imagery with several the artist’s works which the audience  will recognise. As part of this display an illusionistic ” Dali” appears and talks to the audience about his life and ideas.

Dali’s Mae West room

Near the beginning of the exhibition is the ideal social media setup which features a three-dimensional version of the artist’s Mae West where you can sit on the famous Mae west sofa creating your own Salvador Dali image.

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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