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?
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.
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 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.