“I am in a permanent state of intellectual erection”

I forgot to take my “cultural musings” notebook to the Dali museum yesterday, and so resorted to scribbling down my thoughts on various scraps of paper as they came to me. Not one to supress a spontaneous stream of (re)writing into prose, here were my thoughts of the exhibition in real-time.


  • £12?! For a poxy exhibition stuck onto the side of the county hall?
  • There is a pleasing roundness to Dali’s work – at once cartoonish, yet incredibly detailed. For some reason this reminds me of the drawing style of Beavis and Butthead.
  • One thing quite often becomes another in Dali’s work. Is this characteristic of the surreal? I draw like that a lot – arbitrary lines suddenly become forms, what I intend to be one thing comes out as another. But I am shit. Is surrealist art just shit that got lucky?
  • One could also suggest that this work is precursory of deconstruction. Nothing has a finite start or end. Meaning is fluid and boundless.
  • The music in the gallery that accompanies the multimedia piece appeals to the trad goth enthusiast in me. It is hard not to dance, but I manage.
  • The curation is very interesting. One walks down a corridor of Dali’s images and quotes, before passing through an almost psychedelic light show. It is a process for entering an(-)otherworld.
  • On viewing L’ouroboros, I ponder the instances in Dali’s work where an object turns back on itself almost incestuously – hands clasp own knees, tails are eaten by the bearer’s mouth. What is this – a self gratification, deprecation, or suicide?
  • SUR – why this prefix? is it that something is presented above and beyond the real? That exceeds it? that enhances it?
  • The shape of the women depicted in his art are dialectic to the fashionable ideals of the time. Perhaps fittingly, as he draws them with suggestions of seduction and carnal lust. They are dangerous and desirable, not pretty and ornamental.
  • It is important not to forget his technical aptitude – along with intricate drawings, he makes very detailed sculptures that are a pleasure to walk around. La Lione is particularly inspirational.

The museum also hosts a small Picasso exhibit on the lower floor, which is frankly underwhelming. It claims to display Picasso’s ecclectic styles, but after viewing a highly stimulating and thought-provoking pieces on the upper floor, Picasso’s textiles and ceramics come across as hollow. His collections in the Jardins Tullieries are far more interesting.

Before my evening Dali Museum appointment, I had some free time on my hands, and so wandered along a portion of the South Bank that I’d yet to discover. I found a book fair under Waterloo Bridge, breakdancers, mime artists, and a well-graffitied skatepark. The Kinks were right.

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Filed under art, comment, culture, London

2 responses to ““I am in a permanent state of intellectual erection”

  1. I love Dali. I also have a fascination for Picasso, but I believe he did a lot of crap on purpose, and a separate body of work that is extremely powerful. He seems not to have differentiated it during his lifetime, since people fawned over whatever he did.

    Dali I can stare at for hours.

    I don’t draw, I write…one of my oldest and most prized works is a story titled “The Fall of the House of Escher”


  2. Pingback: Top 10 bezienswaardigheden in Brugge – Bezienswaardigheden Europa

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