The title speaks for itself. This story is my account of the Salvador Dali exhibition in Auckland. Sometimes things in life are so intricately intertwined that I would like to begin my narration with the recollection of the not-so-distant past… 

When some time ago my constant and faithful friend and I travelled around Spain, we tried, like we all do, to “grasp the immensity” endeavouring to visit all the significant and famous sights in the country.  We started our journey in Barcelona, then travelled across to the South and wrapped up our Spanish adventure in Madrid. While in Barcelona we could not miss experiencing the unique buildings and architecture of Gaudi, the surrealist works of Dali and the amazing Picasso Museum. We could not miss the magnificent castles and palaces of Seville and Granada. We also explored the Abbey of Montserrat, the home of the Museum of Montserrat featuring an assortment of archaeological treasures and unique works of art including the famous Angry Young Men by Dali. And so when we reached Madrid, our last destination, and after hours in the Prado and the Reina Sofia Museum, we realised that we were so overwhelmed with emotions that we could not take any more. The so longed for Dali’s Museum in Figueires had to be left out. Sure enough, after a while, when our impressions subsided, we started regretting and even feeling ashamed that we had missed the opportunity to visit the Dali’s museum. But life often brings some interesting twists. We could not even dare to expect that Salvador Dali himself would come to visit us!

Talking about the exhibition, it is so wonderfully amazing to see how the cutting-edge digital technology was being used to create such a high-quality, visually dynamic and interesting event. Many of us, at least in Auckland, remember the exhibitions of Van Gogh, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. The Inside Dali exhibition brought a multi-sensory experience perceived through innovative technology combined with imagery, real objects and illusions. As far as the content, I suppose it was not too difficult to fill up the space. This amazing Master had so many talents – he was not only a famous artist but also a photographer, sculptor, architect, scenic designer, screen and script writer! The significance of his legacy and the diversity of his work have been so well encompassed in this exhibition in a very interesting and multidimensional way.  Many of his talents, at least for me, were only revealed at this exhibition. As for his work as an artist, what struck me was that for the seven hundredth anniversary of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, it was Salvador Dali who was asked to illustrate a new edition of the book. The reproductions of those illustrations (and he made over a hundred of them) impressed me immensely! Interesting photographs and compositions created by Dali, his architectural creations, examples of his theatrical works as an author and co-author, real interviews with the artist himself, his famous red lips sofa – so tempting to seat on, and, of course, digitised, huge-sized canvases of his most famous works, which the audience could admire endlessly –the multifaceted legacy of the great artist was embodied in the exhibition.  

I am not a professional to analyse or evaluate the Master’s works. Those were my impressions of an unsophisticated viewer. To finish, I apologise for repeating myself, but the word “amazing” comes to mind again and again. Interesting works, original vision, amazingly striking images… Amazing creative longevity spanning over almost seventy years. Amazing faithfulness – his muse and his wife Gala (Elena Dyakonova, born in Kazan) was the only woman in his life.  I left the exhibition with a feeling that many of his works could be easily described as the “performance art” – there is talent, unorthodox vision, and even épatage! I am sure no one needs convincing that Dali was an amazing multi-genre and multidimensional talent!   

by Rimma Shkrabina, Auckland

(translated by Lena Naumova)