Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

The Mad House of Dalí

When I was just a wee girl, I was wandering into a random poster store in a nondescript shopping mall, as you do.

I saw a picture which at that point completely mesmerized me. It was a strange drawing of elephants with mosquito-like legs. I didn’t know what the picture was about or who the painter was. I just stared and stared for many more seconds than I grant any other paintings at the time, or ever.

At the time Internet wasn’t yet a Thing. I couldn’t go home and Google it. In fact it didn’t cross my mind to ask the store keeper who painted it. It just didn’t cross my mind to find anything about the painter at all. I thought the painter could be just some random person in the universe, absolutely insignificant, possibly unknown.

He could be a nobody. Why looked for a nobody?

Many years passed by, and somehow I remember this tiny incident. I remember which shopping mall, the look and feel of the shop, roughly where it was located and which floor. I remember who I went with.

But most of all, I remember the painting. The image was burnt in my mind.

Fast forward more than a decade, I stumbled upon Destino, a Disney-short which is a collaboration between Disney and an artist, whose work immediately felt familiar. I remembered my painting. Could it be?

With some Net-Detective work I finally found out that he was indeed the same artist! Are you curious now?

Dali - Temptation of St Anthony

This is the painting that started it all (Temptation of St Anthony)

Salvador-Dali

This is the guy

So I found him. I found him. Salvador Dalí. Surrealist painter. Artist. Spanish. Weird. Very weird person. Just my kind.

Fast forward another few years, I landed myself in Europe for the first time. He’s even closer now. There are three Dali sites just north of Barcelona, Spain. Dali Museum in Figueres, Dali House in Cadaques, and Gala-Dalí House in Pubol (Gala is Dalí’s muse and wife). All just within around an hour from each other. On my Spain road trip, I dragged my two companions to spend a day hunting Salvador Dalí.

Dalí Museum, Figueres, Spain

Dalí Museum is the most important Dalí site. Straight bang in the middle of Figueres, the fortress-like building with circus-like decoration looks so surreal.

Salvador Dali museum, Figueres, Spain

The exterior of Salvador Dali museum. You can tell you’re in for a surprise as soon as you arrive!

Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

The center courtyard with mechanical car operated with coin, an imposing statue, and a boat perched on the top – the blue water-like drops were made from, guess what…, condoms.

Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

If you put coin in, it’d start raining inside the car

Dali Museum, Figueres

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Do you see the Lincoln mosaic? There’s coin-operated telescope at the other end of the room, with which you can see closer that there are more paintings inside Lincoln.

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Giant-ass painting

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Lots of odd “objects”

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Feel very strong tendency to say weird shit

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Michelangelo’s Moses – with octopus perched on top?! (Note: The real Moses statue is in Rome, which I went to see the last time I went there)

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Lots of paintings of illusion. Do you see both face of a man and a woman standing?

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

More illusion using mirrors

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

That’s Mee on the right :)

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Room-size art installation. If you move your head back you should see a woman’s face. We view this from a high platform in the room.

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

And just behind the stage of the woman above, there’s what looks like a dreamy little bed in the forest. Why is it there? Who knows?!

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Dali was a prolific painter, but his paintings are scattered all over the world – a big portion in the US as he spent many years there. This is one of his well-known painting – painted with 7 mirrors or something like that. Mind-boggling. The woman is Dala, Dali’s wife and muse.

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

Gala is present in many of Dali’s art

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

The jewelery gallery. Smaller items but not less weird.

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

A mechanical beating hard

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

The Elephant!

Gala-Dalí House, Pubol

We mixed up Dalí House in Cadaques and Gala-Dalí House in Pubol (I blame the GPS!), and with the limited time on our hand, we could only go to one site and not the other. Dali House would be a more interesting place to go to and I was deeply disappointed that we had to miss it. I guess there’s at least now a good reason to go back to North of Spain.

Gala-Dalí House is a house given by Dalí to his wife Gala. She accepted with a rule that he could not stay in unless invited (I must say this doesn’t sound too absurd to me. I can relate with wanting own space and corner, regardless of how much you love your partner). Gala lived there for some years. When she passed away, Dali moved into the house.

The house is rather quiet compared to Dalí Theatre-Museum that was full of visitors, and there was strong air of creepiness. The decoration was creepy, the furniture was creepy. Perhaps everything about Dalí just is.

The House of Gala-Dali, Pubol, Spain

The House of Gala-Dali, Pubol, Spain

I could have nightmares having this chess set in my house

The House of Gala-Dali, Pubol, Spain

Again, The Elephant!

The House of Gala-Dali, Pubol, Spain

It’s like The Elephant keeps following me

The whole Dalí experience was surreal.

More surreal though was how I got there. A painting seen as a kid, image burnt in mind for more than a decade without knowing who or what it was, and finally the chance to see his works, his house, his home town, half way around the world.

There’s a tinge of sadness, that this kind story won’t ever happen again. To me or probably to anyone. These days we are so connected to the World Wide Web that if you’re curious about something, you only need to connect and find all the answers in 2 seconds. Google, Twit the picture, and the whole world would tell you what you want to know.

There’s no mystery, no hunt, no yearning, no piece of vivid memory from days gone by.

There’s no story spanning a couple of decades, of searching, and dreaming.

I guess I’m being foolishly nostalgic, like I always do. The world now is great, it is. It allows a wee girl to travel in time and in space to the other side of the world to complete a story.

I stood in front of Dalí’s crypt, real as real can be, and I remembered the painting, vivid as ever.

Dali's Crypt, Figueres, Spain

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mee
The Traveling Reader
I left home when I was 17 and never stop exploring the world since. Most days I'm a digital technician at one of the London's biggest visual effects studio. My alternate persona writes and travels and dreams of doing these as a living. I alternately call myself Indonesian or Australian whichever is more beneficial at the time, and I've been a Londoner since 2011.