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Extraordinariness in Surrealism: Salvador Dali

When we think of Dalí, we think of his surrealist paintings... The first thing that comes to the mind of most people interested in the subject is the famous painting "The Persistence of Memory". The life of the Catalan painter Salvador Dalí, whom we will commemorate with his birthday in May, was actually no different from his paintings. Dalí, who adapted his surrealist style to his life, attracted attention with his unconventional clothing, behavior and speaking style. The fame of the artist broke the ordinary and created a unique language of his own, and was shaped through this sharp lifestyle and understanding of art.

Dalí made more than 1500 paintings and dozens of sculptures throughout his life, as well as various lithographs, book illustrations, theater decorations and costumes. In addition to fashion designers such as Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior, he also worked with photographers such as Cecil Breton and Man Ray. He was interested in different fields, and in addition to painting, he was also interested in sculpting, photography and filmmaking. Dalí was also familiar with science and mathematics, he tried to reflect all his knowledge in his works by blending them with his imagination.



The Persistence of Memory, 1931



Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937

Let's look at a few Dalí paintings. The fame of The Persistence of Memory aside, I am going to tell you about Dalí's works " Swans Reflecting Elephants" and "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening”, which clearly reveal Dalí's püre imagination. Swans Reflecting Elephants, dated 1937, is an example of Dalí's method called paranoid criticism in painting. This method, which he also used in his work called "The Metamorphosis of Narcissus", also reveals the success of the double image style.



Swans Reflecting Elephants, 1937

In the painting, we see three swans reflected in the lake in front of the trees. In this reflection, the necks of swans are like the trunks of elephants. Trees are observed in the shape of elephants' legs. The contrast in the painting is provided by the cliffs in the background and the clouds with unusual forms depicted in the sky. The painting, which is a treasure in terms of surrealism, is groundbreaking because it also increased the popularity of the double-image style.


The painting "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening" as its title suggests, is entirely related to a bee sting scene. The reason why the title of the work is so long is that this bee actually stung Salvador Dalí in his dream. The artist immortalized this moment, left it in the hands of his imagination, and then transferred it to his canvas. The painting, one of the most magnificent examples of surrealism, is a reflection of the series of inspirations that formed in Dalí's consciousness. In the painting, we see a female figure lying naked on a piece of stone suspended in the air. This figure is Gala, whose name Dalí always mentions as the love of his life and the source of inspiration for his works. The artist depicts the pain he is experiencing in the painting with a rifle with a bayonet touching Gala's arm, and depicts the wild tigers and the bee itself behind this rifle in vivid colors. Dalí's aim here is to see the bee sting as an attack and transfer it to an ironic symbolism. In addition, the elephant with flamingo legs and an obelisk on its back, which Dalí used in his dream-themed works, also took its place in the background. For the elephant figure, the artist was inspired by Bernini's "Pulcino della Minerva".



Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening , 1944

We know that Dalí was closely interested in dreams and what they symbolized. Naturally, the issues of consciousness and subconsciousness are exactly the issues that the surrealist artist draws inspiration from in his art and life. For example, in this work, with these figures suspended in the air, Dalí shows the viewer the stages of Gala's dream and presents it by freezing the moment a second before the dream ends.

Dreams, as the sharpest observers of the subconscious, actually give us many clues. In the work, our mind sees completely unrelated objects as various elements of the dreamer's subconscious. In this way, we can read the dream and the dreamer's mind through the painting. The idea of "being awakened from a long dream by an external factor and seeing an object that reminds this factor in the dream", which Freud also mentioned, is revealed in Dalí's painting by establishing a connection between the buzzing and sting of the bee and the bayonet of the rifle.

The majority of these magnificent works, that are landmarks by Dalí who loved to examine and explore the subconscious, are now in the Dalí Theater and Museum in Figueres. Apart from that, they are located in the Salvador Dalí Museum in Saint Petersburg, Florida, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and the Salvador Dalí Gallery in Los Angeles.

Many of Dalí's paintings challenge the viewer while commenting on. So they are still waiting to be fully discovered by researchers...

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