In the 20s an avant-garde Surrealist art movement has started. Surrealism is a 'visual expression of internal perception'. It's a fantasy, over reality and above all dreams and subconsciousness. Surrealism is a complete contradiction of realism, classicism, empiricism, utilitarianism and rationalism. I would first like to start with Salvador Dali's paintings, as he's probably one of my favourite artists of all times. There are three paintings of Dali at the exhibition: "Metamorphosis of Narcissus", "Mountain Lake" and "Autumnal Cannibalism".
One of the main advantages of London is the possibility of appreciating art for free anytime you'd like. Tate Modern is possibly one of the most common and frequently visited art gallery in the capital. Its intriguing architecture attracts the tourists and it fits beautifully with the Millennium Bridge next to it, even though it kind of looks like a factory from outside. The uniqueness of the building won't surely disappoint your expectations inside, after you enter it. We can call it a factory, as it's a place where our sensitivity, imagination and appreciation for art are being created. I myself got a chance to visit Tate Modern plenty of times already, but this time the purpose of my Sunday trip there was to have a look at one specific exhibition, which is "Poetry and Dreams: Surrealism and Beyond" on Level 2.
SALVADOR DALI IN TATE MODERN
"Metamorphosis of Narcissus" is Dali's interpretation of an old, common Greek myth about Narcissus. He was only in love with himself and broke the hearts of his lovers. As a punishment from God, he got to see his own reflection in a pool, which he immediately fell in love with. However, after some time he realised it's impossible to embrace it and so he died out of frustration.
"WAY OF VISUALLY OBSERVING THE COURSE OF THE METAMORPHOSIS OF NARCISSUS REPRESENTED IN THE PRINT ON THE OPPOSITE PAGE:
If one looks for some time, from a slight distance and with a certain 'distant fixedness', at the hypnotically immobile figure of Narcissus, it gradually disappears until at last it is completely invisible.
The metamorphosis of the myth takes place at that precise moment, for the image of Narcissus is suddenly transformed into the image of a hand which rises out of his own reflection. At the tips of its fingers the hand is holding an egg, a seed, a bulb from which will be born the new narcissus - the flower. Beside it can be seen the limestone sculpture of the hand - the fossil hand of the water holding the blown flower."
The poem to which Dali referred was published in a book, entitled "Metamorphosis of Narcissus". The book consists of Explanatory notes above.
"Mountain Lake" is unique in its use of multiple image. When you look at the painting you can either see the lake or a fish. These two images can be seen simultaneously thanks to human imagination. For those who knew Salvador the interpretation of the painting could be completely different, as it has a hidden personal story behind it. Apparently his parents visited the lake after the death of their first child, whose name was also Salvador. Throughout this paintings he wanted to express the feeling of being haunted by his brother, even though he's never got to know him.
"Autumnal Cannibalism" was painted after the Spanish Civil War. It presents an embrace of a cannibal couple. In the background we can observe a Spanish landscape. The painting also refers to the legend of William Tell, which is a story of father and son, where one was forced to kill another.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN DALI'S PAINTINGS AND "UN CHIEN ANDALOU"?
Luis Buñuel's and Salvador Dali's "Un Chien Andalou" is a number one representative of surrealist cinema. The cinema full of abstract and irrationalism, that not only is hard to understand, but hard to even interpret it in your own way. Having seen the film I now can only try to find some connections and similarities between the film and Dali's paintings. I can clearly observe some connections, such us the theme of death, frustration and darkness in a mental way. However, the story of "Un Chien Andalou" is said to have be created from both Buñuel's and Dali's dreams. This helps me to defend myself, when saying that I'm not able to come up with any interpretation of this movie, that could make any sense. The film is created out of people dreams, which no one ever will manage to fully understand. The artists decided to gather their subconscious images in one short abstract film. I would say it's about the fear we all experience subconsciously when we're asleep, as our dreams mostly consist of anxiety we feel in our daily life.
WHAT'S MORE TO SEE AT THE EXHIBITION?
Although after reading the story that's hidden behind it has really engaged my interest and curiosity. Even though, it's an abstract picture it presets a real, personal story of an artist. The tragic love affair is shown with the use of nice, delicate colours. Dance usually reminds us of something happy, but in this case it's more of a commemoration. What's rather rare in this particular painting, as far as I'm concerned, is the fact that it presents a realistic situation in a surrealist way. After you become familiar with the story, you can easily understand it and imagine what the artist is trying to convey.
“Everyone wants to understand art. Why don’t we try to understand the song of a bird? Why do we love the night, the flowers, everything around us, without trying to understand them? But in the case of a painting, people think they have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necessity, that he himself is only an insignificant part of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world though we can’t explain them; people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
- Pablo Picasso
Another interesting painting at the exhibition, that I simply can't stop staring at each time I visit the gallery is "Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I" by an African artist Ibrahim El-Salahi. It's mostly because of its esthetic colours and interesting ghostly figures, why it's drawn my attention in the first place.
Last but not least, I'd like to mention "A Mi-Voix" by Dorothea Tanning. "I just wanted to paint a white and grey picture that would still have colour in its veins as we have blood under our winter-white skin’ she said." I believe she's achieved exactly what she'd wanted to. Although the painting is in grey, it gives you the feeling of many various colours. Comparing to all the previous painting I wrote about it doesn't seem very surrealistic to me. However, its unique shapes, that are truly hard to interpret surely fit into the movement.
WELCOME TO MY PERSONAL