ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Dali at the Pompidou

The metamorphosis of Narcissus

Huge block buster of a show - allow at least two hours if you don't want to watch the films and much, much longer if you do. I recommend a comfort break before you go in. There wasn't much of a queue when I went last Sunday. I had not booked tickets in advance and only had to stand around for about half an hour to get in. The good thing about waiting for an exhibition on a cold day at the Pompidou is that there's a great view of Paris to be had and when you are bored with that read your book (you always carry one of those don't you?) or the exhibition leaflet that the staff helpfully hand out to the line. It's available in French and English, so just ask.



What of the exhibition itself? Well, it's Dali, no introduction needed and it's all of Dali: a massive retrospective of over a hundred canvasses, as well as sketches, books, sculpture and films. There was a lot of work that I had never seen before. If it isn't from London or New York that will always be the case for me. So, I enjoyed discovering the white lobster phone (above) as I've only ever seen the red one in Tate Modern, plus all the paintings on the horrors of war (Spanish civil and World), which make for unsettling viewing. And there's all the usual stuff - dripping clocks, ants, narcissi.

The most annoying moment was provided by some rather young people (not that it is their fault they are young) whose inane comments about it all being 'cool and dreamy' (no, really?) got right up my nose. Still...call me old, intolerant, whatever.

Macbeth - detail of one of the witches (typical of me to chose that!)


It was good to see Dali's theatre sets and those film collaborations with Brunel. I even enjoyed making my own surreal photo from a cunningly put together set. This was not just for the kiddies. (Note: you can take some photographs of some of the work). And by the way, I'm not sure I'd want to answer the kind of questions children ask when confronted with rather graphic work.



My overwhelming impression was of two things - just how great a technician Dali was - his landscapes are perfect in their geomorphological detail - really look at the rocks and you'll see what I mean; and deconstruction of the body and its reconstruction into another image - quite brilliant. Check for yourself. If you think surrealism is a license to be silly, you're missing the point. 13 Euros well spent and I am glad I ignored all the nay-sayers who simply don't get Dali.

For more go here before 25 March.

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