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an interview withMontse Aguer, Director of Dalinian Studies atThe Dalí Theatre-Museumin Figueras.

By Marco Pantella

image courtesy of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Figueres, 2014, all rights reserved

When André Breton first defined Surrealism in 1924 (a “pure psychic automatism”), little did he know that Salvador Dalí would take his words to the extreme, not only introducing a revolutionary way of painting, but also changing the interaction between artist and artist. The world.

Dalí's genius lay in his relentless exploration of the world in which he lived. Instead of homologating his identity, he unleashed his genius, creating an unconventional and provocative character who managed to challenge the important role of the media in society. There is no doubt that he redefined the meaning and role of the artist, that he cannot be afraid to experiment with all the arts, from painting to fashion. He created a unified field in a fragmented world with his versatility and his thirst for modernity. Dalí continues to free us from our fears and limitations to connect us with our “genius gene”.

The indisputable genius of Salvador Dalí comes down to his exaltation of himself, combined with a raw talent that defies logic, creating a work that goes beyond a mere painting. You don't become a genius by playing it safe; you have to understand the world you live in before you turn it upside down. One must also be misunderstood by incorporating the revolutionary ideas that are agitating and shaking the tradition.

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There was a time whenSigmund Freudhe was playing with something the masses didn't know they already knew: the unconscious. At a time when painting was an academic subject, mass culture was about to invade us and fashion was beginning to set trends. As tradition faltered, Dalí grew his extravagant mustache, influenced by the Spanish master painter,Diego Velazquez, and Dalí's story was made in front of the media. Dalí became a pioneer in the use and manipulation of the media to gain worldwide recognition for his totally intimate work. Dalí's inspirations are found in the most remote corner of the mind, where the unconscious floats, fears lurk, the residue of dreams remains and talent and personality are released. That's why anyone can connect with Dali's mind, and yet the only place we can try to find more answers is onDalí Theater and Museumin Figueres, Spain, the place where he is now buried in a crypt and where his essence is more palpable than in any other museum. Director of Dalinian Studies,Montse Aguer, invites us to play the game that Salvador Dalí left us and that only an artist like him could conceive.

“Instead of being mere spectators in the museum, Dalí proposes to discover all the enigmas that it hides, delve into his works and discover another reality, a double image. He provokes us and raises questions. He amuses us and even worries us. This is the atmosphere that he wanted when creating this museum”.

- Montse Aguer See More

Photo by Josep Algans

Visiting the Dalí Museum is a real and surreal experience. The museum used to house the town theater when he was a boy. It was bombed during the Spanish Civil War and was finally inaugurated in 1974. “I like the museum as a whole,” said Aguer, “the fact that it is a complete work of art conceived and created by the artist himself that expresses the totality of his life and artistic career is extraordinary.”

Ms. Aguer was asked to become the director of Dalinian studies in 2004, during Salvador Dalí's centenary celebration, and that task proved to be as challenging as looking at one of his paintings. “You enter a new dimension. Every time he thinks he has mastered a certain area of ​​his life, a new document comes out and you have to question everything all over again from the beginning. It takes me to a permanent state of expectation and awareness.”

How did Dalí become a genius? Dalí said he wanted to be a cook at six, Napoleon at seven, and the parallel is obvious when you think that Surrealism was born as a revolution that Dalí, like the French emperor, turned into an empire ruled by his savage personalities. . He proclaimed himself "The Savior" of painting from the dangers of abstract art, academic surrealism, Dadaism and all anarchic "isms", a statement that only an expert like him can express. “He was a great connoisseur of the history of art and all its different techniques,” said Aguer, “he knew theItalian Renaissanceand I found Raphael and Michelangelo's treatment of perspective and color fascinating, but also... avant-garde. His style is situated between tradition and...absolute modernity with the incorporation of the latest scientific advances and discoveries such as stereoscopy or holography." With his archetypal eyes wide open, Dalí's investigations turned from art to the mysteries of the mind.

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“Every morning when I wake up, I once again experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí.”

"The difference between false and true memories is the same as between jewels: it is always the false ones that seem most real, the most brilliant."

Dalí once met Sigmund Freud in London and to show that he was Freud's most passionate student. It was then that Dalí showed the painting to Freud,"Metamorphosis of Narcissus".The drawers of the unconscious that the Viennese professor talks about work just as well as those portrayed by Dalí. It was a way of saying that psychoanalysis managed to shed some light on the unconscious, but what was it looking for in the psyche, dreams and sexuality of human beings? "I think he was looking for answers, but at the same time he was reflecting on his obsessions and trying to free himself from them."

image courtesy of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Figueres, 2014, all rights reserved

At the age of 17, his mother died. your tribute,"The riddle of desire"it couldn't be more complex. Dalí's mother never appeared in his paintings. However, in this work it takes the form of a monstrous uterus, reminiscent of the weather-beaten rocks of the Cadaqués coast, a place that Dalí loved and which became a source of inspiration for his fantasies. "His relationship with women was quite complicated and he spoke very little about his mother," said Aguer.

The only female presence that became the absolute love of his life wasGala🇧🇷 Dalí asked him: “what do you want me to do with you?” and she replied: "kill me". She became his muse and started the machine behind his success. “There is no Dalí without Gala”, she once said, and in fact, she acts like a manager; she sourced the best frames and materials and negotiated with galleries for Dalí. She was the ultimate cure for his madness and a key presence for him. Absolute despair was what she felt after his death, a strange feeling for someone who never gave up even when he was expelled from the Academy of Fine Arts and the Surrealist movement.

“Obviously there are other worlds. That's true; but, they are within our [our world]. They reside on earth and precisely in the central dome of the Dalí Museum, which contains the new, unsuspecting and amazing world of surrealism.

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There are a few reasons why Dalí wanted his most extravagant work to endure in his own city. The old Theatro Municipal was the perfect place for someone who considered himself a theater painter; It is right in front of the church where he was baptized and where his first exhibition was held. After extensive experimentation, Surrealism was the movement where he found his religion. Ms. Aguer commented: “It is very important in Dalí's career, since it represents irrationality in a realistic way. There is a moment when he defines his painting as a hand-painted photograph. In fact, his paintings tend to be almost hyper-realistic, but always with references to the unconscious. His mastery and mastery of the technique, his passion and obsession for knowledge and, finally, his insatiable curiosity are elements that contributed to his success.”

After the Nazi occupation of Paris, Dalí moved to the United States and, during this period,The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, a very important autobiography, was published in America. Ms. Aguer said: “I would recommend it to anyone interested in her life. Dalí was a great writer and he used to read a lot. He himself once declared that he was a better writer than a painter. While the world began to yearn to see what he would come up with, Dalí transmitted his image and talent to the media, achieving success in different collaborations:Walt Disney's"Destiny,"de Hitchcock"Enchanted," Madamechanel, miElsa Schiaparelli.

"A true artist is not the one who inspires himself, but the one who inspires others."

"He who does not want to imitate anything, does not produce anything."

ImagineAlexander McQueenfashion shows,Lady Gagawith a lobster on his head andBjörkmusic videos. The presence of surrealist elements is very persistent even today; it shows from the way art is evolving to the way certain pop stars try to create their image to impact the media. When Dalí painted one of his most famous and recognizable works of art,"Persistence in Memory"people were led to believe that it was inspired byone time's The Theory of Relativity, but when asked about the comparison, Dalí replied that his iconic melting clocks arose from the perception of Camembert cheese melting in the sun. Is this true or just another of many provocative statements from him? However, his originality lies in translating something as real as the discovery of the relativity of space and time through art. Thinking about how Dalí would react to modern technology, Aguer said that Dalí "would master computers and everything that new technologies and scientific discoveries are offering us." When asked what Dalí would find surreal in our society, Aguer was quick to respond with "Reality itself!" as if it were a rhetorical question.

Perhaps this is still the only way to create meaningful art today: learning to imitate our modern world and creating a new one that resonates with us more than the reality in which we live. Think about what Salvador Dalí could achieve by experimenting with graphic design, and what contemporary artists could create if they freed themselves from the dogmas we still grapple with.

"I'm not weird. I'm just not normal.

How does a genius see himself? The answer can be seen through an artist's most personal statement about himself: a self-portrait. dali self portrait,"Smooth Self Portrait with Fried Bacon"it depicts the artist's face as a cast bronze mask supported on mini crutches, another childhood obsession, something to lean on during life and, at the same time, something to ward off in death. He wanted it to be an “anti-psychological self-portrait”, painting the outside instead of the soul, or as he called it, “the glove of myself”. There is also a piece of bacon and ants in the portrait, to symbolize his generosity in offering himself to be eaten by the media, and act as inspiring “food” that succulently nourishes our time. Are the props and accessories in the portrait a way to express a touch of insecurity? “The private Dalí was very nice, but he knew that he had created a character. In meetings with friends, if journalists or a camera appeared, he would immediately say: 'I'm going to play Dalí'”. clearly connects with mass culture” and with icons such asmarilyn monroe, who were also “interpreting” their characters.

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"People love mystery and that's why they love my paintings."

No matter what class we come from, being in front of Dalí's works is like watching an endless riddle, something that puts our mind in unlimited movement. "We already know a lot about him, but we must keep something of a mystery," concluded Aguer. He may be right, since a continuous thirst for knowledge can drive us crazy just like withFriedrich Nietzsche, the only person, according to Dalí, who could be at Dalí's level. “My equal will not be found in other centuries either. My painting shows it”, said Dalí.

Delirium? Crazy? Arrogant? Hypocrite? Still, no one has come to leave a mark like Salvador Dalí did with his art, since Dalí manifests our inner worlds, showing us how we feel about our existence. He portrayed our irrational fears, the things we only see in our dreams, and the magnificence of the human mind with its fantasies, perversions, and infinite possibilities. A genius can be given the power to say whatever he wants. Ms. Aguer shared her personal favorite Dalí quote from memory:

“Don't waste time trying to be modern. Unfortunately, it's the one thing that, whatever you do, you can't help but be."

Visit the Dalí Theatre-Museumhere

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