Yesterday I went to Melbourne to see Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire at the National Gallery of Victoria. Because I really wanted to see this exhibition but I couldn’t get time off work, I made a day trip out of it, flying in first thing yesterday morning and coming home last night.
The exhibition was really well done. It was huge – containing more than 200 of Dali’s works. Although his most famous work, “The Persistence of Memory”, was conspicuously absent, many other well-known works were on display.
I really enjoyed the commentary and notes written underneath the titles of the artworks. They were very informative, offering insightful remarks into the interpretation and history of the pieces. They brought to the reader’s attention that Dali’s artworks are not merely random and “trippy”, as a cursory viewing of his pictures would undoubtedly lead most to believe. His art is often very heavily laden with symbology inspired by his strong interest in current world events. He would also thoroughly and intelligently research his topics and had wide interests and influeces. I found this extremely interesting, especially since most of my views on Dali as a person were based on his autobiography “The Secret Life”. It’s a book in which the author presents himself as a precocious genius, playing up his own absurdity to the extreme. The exhibition enabled me to view him more objectively.
Some of my most favourite works that I saw yesterday were the ones inspired by Dali’s interest in atomic theory including “Galatea of the Spheres” and “Dematerialization near the Nose of Nero”. Something that was surprising to me was discovering that several of his paintings, which I had assumed were large-scale works of art, were actually tiny pieces painted on wood. This made them all the more amazing for their detail. I also did not know that Dali had dabbled in making jewellery. Several such pieces were on display. I also saw “Destino”, a short animated film produced by Dali and Walt Disney only recently completed.
The biggest downside of yesterday’s Dali adventure was that the gallery was extraordinarily busy. It was a Sunday after all. We had to line up for half an hour just to buy our tickets. Once we were in, I was a bit dismayed to see that people were crowding around each picture, making it difficult to view anything. But as we progressed through the exhibition I found that the crowds dispersed and I soon got pretty good at wiggling my way through to each art work. It was a matter of judging the movements of people. (People tend to move in crowds and groups).
We spent a good three hours there. The rest of the day was mainly full of eating, walking around, and waiting. Quite a lot of waiting actually, especially at the airport on the way home. I am a little ashamed to say that I got quite grumpy by the end of the day. Nonetheless, the trip was very worthwhile, I feel pretty lucky to have seen Dali’s art up close.