Salvador Dali’s artworks seem to have much to say in regards to life during a pandemic. Born in Spain on May 11, 1904, he is a well-known surrealist artist. While he did live during what was termed the Spanish Flu, otherwise known as the 1918 flu pandemic, he did not attribute any of these works to this topic. All of the following interpretations are my own. Living during a pandemic has caused me to find parallels within familiar works of art. What can we learn from Salvador Dali Perspectives?
Perspective from Dali
Automatic Beginning of a Portrait of Gala…Salvador painted this so called automatic portrait of his wife, Gala, in 1933. She was among his favorite subject matter! During a pandemic, many people may be inclined to allow their hair to revert to the wild. Perhaps it is just living closer to what they feel themselves to be. Gala’s tresses are some of the most natural. Sprouting twigs and leaves from her head is certainly pandemic perfect!
Persistence of Salvador Dali Perspectives
Persistence of Memory… This particular Dali masterpiece is highly recognized by many. It was created in 1931. The wonder of his melting clocks clearly depicts the concept of time, especially during a pandemic. Many entirely lose a sense of time. It may seem to endlessly drag or for some, race ahead. For others, it may feel as if time has stopped or perhaps has become non-existent.
Salvador Dali’s Elephants
The Elephants… Salvador featured elephants in several works. This particular piece was painted in 1948. I chose this one simply because of the phrase, ‘the elephant in the room‘. When we speak of the elephant in the room, it means there are topics of conversation which are quite obvious, but no one wants to begin those conversations. In this Dali painting, I feel it symbolizes that our world is beginning to recognize the elephants in the room. The obelisks floating over the elephants’ backs represent the current weighty discussions which must ensue. Their spindly legs indicate that it still feels as if we are walking on pins and needles in addressing certain issues. However, it is comforting that the conversations are starting. Salvador Dali perspectives certainly make me think!
Metamorphosis of Narcissus is an amazing double image, created in 1937. Dali represented Narcissus as a person sitting in a reflecting pool alongside a large hand which mimics the size and position of the person. Following Narcissus’ death, the hand has become the metamorphosed character. To me, these mirrored poses represent introspective behavior induced by the pandemic. The downward gaze seems evidence of this. Many in this pandemic era have been drawn to delve deeply within themselves to evaluate and contemplate their life journey. Interestingly, the hand is holding an egg which doubles as the head atop the hand. The egg cracks open, allowing the growth of a narcissus flower. The pandemic certainly has been a dark night of the soul for many. According to this Dali painting, a crisis can also create the blossoming of a blessing in its place.
Dali Reflective Perspective
Swans Reflecting Elephants is another remarkable tour de force of Dali. It was conceived in 1937. Who would have thought a reflected swan could be an elephant? Well, Salvador Dali, of course! This is evidence that sometimes, things are not as they seem. At times, we may not fully understand something until we reflect upon it. For example, with the pandemic, we are more likely to comprehend it more fully well into the future. With the passage of time, we will know the true impact, the larger implications and reflections, much as the large image of the elephants appear in this work. Then, we will understand when someone says, “It is definitely a swan, but yet another disagrees and states no, it is truly an elephant.” I have not yet come across such a profoundly accurate way to explain such seeming discrepancies in truth. In learning to think like an artist, we can, in fact, train ourselves to see the big picture. We can visualize the individual truths within this panorama of awareness.
I greatly appreciate the inherent wisdom hidden within the works of Salvador Dali. These masterpieces stand ready for the viewer to mine for the learnings within. Many times Dali exclaimed, “The fact that I myself do not understand my own pictures, does not mean that these pictures have no meaning; on the contrary, their meaning is so profound, complex, coherent, and involuntary that it escapes the most simple analysis of logical intuition.” It certainly is so. I invite you to investigate the arts to discover the personal meanings for you!