Saturday, June 20, 2009

Liquid Desire _ Personal impressions

Finally made it to the Dali exhibition titled Liquid Desire.

I won't attempt to embarrass myself by trying to be an art critic.

Just a personal record of what impressed me.

The exhibition is arranged chronologically and the first small canvases are of the sixteen year old Dali in the impressionist style.

Moving along we see an example of his emulation of the Braque style. Finally the emergence of the surrealist that we know as Dali.

What surprised me was how small the size of the paintings were. Having become familiar with Dali through books, I always had the notion that the paintings would be much larger than they actually were.
In the same way, I had been surprised by how small the Van Gogh paintings were when I toured the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.

My learning experience from the exhibition was that from an artists point of view. In other words the close examination of the painter's technique.

Dali seems to draw like no other artist. His lines are exquisite, precise, tiny and squiggly if you look at his sketches. The detail in the ink and pen drawings is just awesome.

What also left an impression on me was how small Dali's signatures are on the canvas.
If they were any smaller you would have to read them with a magnifying glass. I'm sure psychologists would have a field day just analyzing Dali's signature and handwriting.

The size of the smaller figures and the detail in the small figures that scatter the landscapes is incredible in it's detail.
To me, it seems that Dali draws his visions on the canvas and then paints.
As the years go by, you see how his technique is refined to a sublime smoothness on the canvas but at the beginning it isn't smooth and free of visible brush strokes. That only appears in the latter years.
In comparison, I remember being astonished at the quality of Rene Magritte's paintings which are just flawless in terms of technique. No doubt Dali worked hard to equal that quality he must of admired in Magritte.

Another lasting impression is how Dali used vast empty spaces to such great effect with the tiny figures positioned on the canvas in contrast.
The use of symbols and the influence of Freud I leave to more knowledgeable writers.

There was only one large painting on show, large in the sense that I imagined all his paintings to be. The Pope coronation.

There was also exhibits of collaborations with photographers, movie directors (Bunuel being the most famous) and an eye opener to me being the collaboration Destino with Walt Disney.
The jewellery exhibit was interesting but not much of his sculpture was on show other than the lobster telephone.
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Jeannie said...

We'd have to go to Toronto to see a decent exhibit - not too far at all - but we never hear about what's on. I should check on that.

Jen said...

Great pics - I want to visit an exhibit like that sometime.

Anonymous said...

I envy your experience. Sounds like a wonderful time.

btw- Have you ever studied Marcel DuChamp's Large Glass? I know it doesn't look like much at first, but it is a rather interesting and "Dali-esque" piece.

Hammer said...


There are a couple of his sketches at the local art museum but seeing those works up close must have been an amazing experience.

Lexcen said...

FJ, I wouldn't immediately associate Dali with Duchamp. Duchamp I think was instrumental in pushing the boundaries of what constitutes art and opening the possibilities to conceptual art. In contrast Dali is very traditional. Dali is also a supreme technician whilst Duchamp seems to want to go beyond the possibilities of technique. Symbolism for Dali is the bread and butter of his work whilst symbolism for Duchamp is the inspiration, a means to an end. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even - is a seminal work in that it opens the doors to a type of art that goes beyond painting or sculpture. Looking at Duchamp's legacy of artists such as Damien Hirst I wonder if we should admire him or hold him responsible for a calamity.

Anonymous said...

I don't really mind Hirst until he begins to work with a "once-living" medium.

Anonymous said...

As much as I would love to see an exhibition like this, I have no doubt that I'd have nightmares afterward.