My happiest memories in school (there were few) were during my art history lectures, where I’d get lost in the theory and history of surrealist painters and how they found their influences. I decided to do a little revisiting on one my favourite surrealist artists, Salvador Dali.
Born in Figueras, Spain, Dali was an only child, who was said to have developed an intense and quite egocentric nature. His imagination was so intense that he claims to recall intra-uterine images. He described them as ‘paradise’ and ‘the colour of hell’ with ‘soft, warm immobility’s’.
Dali's childhood urge was to be a cook, but he started painting at the age of six. Soon he showed signs of aggression and was sent away by his parents to live with a family friend, Pitchot, also an artist. His desire to do the exact opposite of his friends and stamp his uniqueness upon the world sought to precipitate itself in violence. In one such incident, Dali, while walking with a friend, pushed him off of a fifteen foot high bridge onto the rocks below. Further, Dali almost numbed the situation by watching the companion’s mother take bowls of his blood out of the room and calmly ate a bowl of cherries. Dali's acts of sadism and masochism didn't cease with time. One of his sources of enjoyment was throwing himself down stairs. 'The pain' he said, 'was insignificant, the pleasure was immense'. Pleasure and pain seemed intimately entwined. Dali wanted both.
Dali used to stand on his head for substantial periods of time to induce hallucinatory images. Amongst Dali's most famous friends were Picasso and Freud. Indeed much of the surrealist movement can be paralleled with the work of Freud at that time. Psychoanalytic theory purported to explain and interpret dreams, hidden unconscious desires and the tapestry of symbolism thereof. This is the foundation of the surrealist movement.