Dalí, a painting story at the Grimaldi Forum

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#MONACO This is about describing a man’s journey with his complexity, his extravagance and the genius who, he said, lived there. But, all his life, he devoted it to painting, not only to his own but to that of the great Masters he admired. Salvador Dalí‘s genius consisted in blurring the lines between the real and the imaginary, in striving for meticulous perfection while playing with the excess of his palette and figures, in assuming his borrowing from the masters of the past while despising all conventions.

The real thing for Dalí was above all Cadaques and its white house in the small bay of Port Lligat, which, from the sea, crawls by espaliers towards the sky. With its wild light, a raw wind that shears rock and sun. And the frame of the windows opening onto the Mediterranean like the incision of the landscape on his canvases. “It is impossible to understand my painting without knowing Port Lligat,” he wrote. On the 4000m2 of this retrospective, a central island recreates the whole of this landscape around which a whole series of rooms are organized that discover it from windows open onto the magic of the sky, the earth and the sea. This link between the intensity of a place and the painter’s different periods is the sap of this initiatory journey.

Starting from a chronological thread, the visitor, through paintings but also through drawings, documents or photographs, experiences the gestation of a work that is part of the great movements of 20th century art. At first he will see the father’s house in Cadaques, treated with an impressionist touch. Then bold paintings in their cubist vein. And even materialistic attempts in the Catalan spirit and the discovery of Warhol and Pop Art. Painting then tends to leave its frame, to explore the possibilities of a third dimension, the last step before Dalí’s ultimate dream, immortality.

But all these movements he went through remain irrigated by surrealism, of which he was one of the main actors, while remaining at the margins of the movement. Yet the exhibition, without evading the heart of the work, takes the decision to explore its contours, to reveal the fantasies and anxieties that shake it beyond the construction of a style Because dalí’s style remains the real mystery that this exhibition at least allows us to touch. He probably resides in the tutelary shadows he celebrates, the light of Vermeer, the power of Michelangelo, the verticality of the cypress trees in Böcklin’s “Isle of the Dead”, the horizontality of the earth with Millet’s “Angelus” and all that writing of anxiety and the paranoid-critical method that he claimed. Dalí’s language is this vocabulary of symptoms that are transformed into signs before being measured against the painting of his “fathers” to be accomplished. This exhibition is an important moment to find a key in the Dalí mystery.

Until September 8, 2019

“Dalí, a story of painting”

Monaco, Grimaldi Forum

Michel Gathier

With a literary background, Michel Gathier developed a passion for art very early, particularly during long stays abroad. He has contributed to the magazine “L’art vivant” and now...

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