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August 20, 2007

The Dali Universe and beyond

The Space Elephant by Salvador Dali

If you've ever studied art and decided to leave some of its better lauded superstars well alone - for what's the point in producing the same project that generations of A-level students have produced before you - it's always a pleasure to one day stumble across what you've been missing. Dali's most famous paintings have always left me cold, but the extensive retrospective I found at the permenant Dali Universe (its' logo is a simple text / handlebar moustache combo - being an art gallery they had to skimp on  imaginative advertising?)

After returning to London Waterloo on Sunday morning, I decided to visit the South Bank, and that's when I found the Dali Universe at County Hall. I'd only visited the County Hall gallery once before and no idea that it housed this extensive collection.

The annex to the main display rooms is a black-lit hall is a place for Dali's rhetorical gifts to be displayed, as zillions of quotes adorn the walls. Like me, you might also take pleasure in how your shoes look when you walk across the floor projections.

I'm so glad that I got to see so many of his more obscure sculptures, watercolours and drawings. There's a kind of spicy mysticism to Dali that I had missed before. The exhibit is a lane peppered with all sorts of mythology - symbolism of course being the chair on which the whole thing is draped. This is a land peopled by stilt-legged elephants heaving striking crystal obelisks on their backs, presumably across the desert. Apparently, it is meant to symbolise pride, conquering. Although I know nothing about the interpretation of the tarot, I love the traditional images used within the deck, inspiring even for someone who is ignorant of the art of tarot card reading. Dali designed a deck that retails for a princely 100 US dollars.Maybe for my birthday? Other favourites include a huge, very 'solid' looking interpretation of a Renaissance venus that is exploding with Dali's trademark drawers of the psyche.  I'll be looking for a book with some nice pictures of this stuff in, happy to be a Dali convert as I now am.

That was the icing on top of a wonderful weekend. I now need a day or two to be in my bedroom, lighting incense (you read right) and switching the music between northern soul and the Velvet Underground. No apologies necessary.


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