Modern Art

El Salvador Dalí

Just an hour and half outside of Barcelona is the town of Figueres, birthplace of Salvador Dalí. And since someone was a huge fan of Dalí, of course we had to veer a little off of Barcelona and visit the town.

There in middle of the town, is an old theater, once destroyed by the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt in the 60’s as the Dalí Theatre and Museum. Considering how theatrical and dramatic Dalí can be, a theater is quite a fitting venue to display his works. I’ve been to the Van Gogh museum and I’ve been to the Picasso museum, but dang, I’ve never seen a museum as kooky as this. Unlike Picasso and Van Gogh’s museums, this guy turned practically every the structure within the museum into a work of art. From the doorways and entrances to windows and corners. It’s bizarre, just the way he liked it.

Anyway, if you live under a rock and have never heard of Dalí or just need a quick pointer, he’s the Persistence of Memory guy. Now, hanging suspended and upside down at the courtyard of the museum is a boat called “Gala’s Boat” with water drops (made of, what I didn’t know then, condoms. He’s a surrealist, go figure), symbolizing tears. Below that is a car filled with water, supposedly underwater beneath “Gala’s Boat,” called the “Car-Naval.” Get it? It’s in a theater or carnival, but it’s also a car underwater so it’s also called “Car-Naval?” Yeah, it’s Dalí . Leave me alone.

Surrounding that courtyard area are golden statuettes, modeled after the Oscar awards. He was a fan of movies and film. From what I’ve learned in this theater, he did dabble into film several times and had even collaborated with a longtime fan of his, Walt Disney. Creation of their short film “Destino” began in 1945, but wasn’t released until 2003.

One of Dalí ‘s iconic images that was often reflected in his work (besides the melted clock, the long-limbed elephant, the ants, the eyeballs, etc.) are the drawers attached to the human body. This supposedly symbolized the unconscious and the secrets that are filed within every person. It’s Freudian stuff… and stuff. Once these drawers were pointed out to me, I couldn’t stop keeping an eye for it. Another one of his iconic images was his wife and muse, Gala Dalí. If you ever see a portrait or a painting by Dalí of a woman with double pointy, half-way up hair, that’s her. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

From what I’ve gathered from the museum, Dalí was an eccentric and vain narcissist and damn well proud of it. I mean, his body is buried at the front stage of the theater, just underneath a huge painting of Narcissus, fer cryin’ out loud. That’s a pretty big hint. Aside from loving the limelight, he was also extremely talented in so many ways, not just in paintings, but also in sculpture, jewelry design, photography and writing.

Now, going into Barcelona, I knew I will be seeing a s*load of modern art, which I confess, I wasn’t a fan of coming in. Coming from California where often times I ran into contemporary works by young, so-called artists, I’ve grown accustomed to really bizarre artworks created by people with very minimal (if not nonexistent) artistic skills, but with a lot to say, most of which are either very obvious or just so completely out there that methinks I am an extremely shallow person who just don’t get it or they have no idea how to reach their audience. But after coming across the early works of Picasso and now seeing the quality of Dalí’s hyperrealism, I saw how developed their talents were before they delved into cubism, surrealism or whatever form of modern art they chose. They got their mad skills down, no longer needing to prove that to anyone, and decided to venture off into a more cultural, layered level. They wanted to escape from the real word, the wars and all the crazy crap that was going on in their time so they dove right into their art. That concept gave an appreciation for the strange world of modern art. Now if only their contemporaries would follow suit…

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Inside Sagrada Famila

The inside of Sagrada Familia is all Gaudí and no other artist or architect.

Nature and religion are the two biggest influence of his work and you can see it here in the surroundings. The colorful lights are all natural lighting from the stain glass. The pillars were all inspired by trees, branching out to the ceiling.  It’s quite spectacular. Seeing this place had always been a dream of mine. I even got to climb up to the towers (they got elevators, so ha).

Now I can’t say I know much about Gaudí. I know he was somewhat of an introvert. He always kept to himself to the point where people often mistook him for a blunt, arrogant and anti-social man,  but his closest friends described him as faithful, friendly and kind. It kind of paints a picture of some people I know. He once portrayed himself as a new-moneyish type of guy where he tried to show off how well off he was during his early successes, but later lived a more humble, frugal lifestyle in his later years to his death. Humility was something he lived by. He intended for Sagrada Familia to reach nearly the heights of the Montjuïc mountains, the highest point of Barcelona, only to be short by one meter because he believed that nothing man-made should ever be higher than God’s work. When La Sagrada Familia is completed, it will have 18 towers. 12 of the towers will represent the apostles, four of them will represent the evangelists, one will be designated for the Virgin Mary, and of course the last one, the highest one in the middle, will represent Jesus Christ. However, right now there are only eight towers.

Gaudí passed away in 1926, a few days after being struck by a tram. Because of his humble, meager appearance, no one recognized him as the architect behind the most renowned structure in Barcelona. He is now buried in the crypt of Sagrada Familia.

There is more I would like to say about Gaudí as he is the most central figure in Barcelona, but hey, his works are all over Barcelona and I’ve got three more posts about it. But as I’ve said before, this is his most signature work so yeah… look at it!

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