Dali was crazy. Crazy brilliant. I wish I could say that I can look at Dali’s work and know what he was thinking when painting it. And yet, even after seeing almost 200 pieces of his work, I am still just as confused and regrettably normal.
Clearly, I am not an art buff. I've always wondered what art history students look for when they stare into canvases of blotchy paint splatters. But I think even art connoisseurs have a hard time interpreting the different imaginary worlds Dali created for each painting. And after two hours of travelling through these alternate universes at the Centre Pompidou, I discovered that Dali’s craziness is refreshing, funny, disturbing, and humbling. You begin to feel a little plain and normal when you can’t figure out at first glance why one face overlaps another, or why thousands of ants are clustered there, or why legs appear out of nowhere. I have trouble conjuring up enough imagination to write a half decent blog post, let alone create a surreal, unique story every time my paintbrush touches a canvas.
And yet, how do we differentiate between “normal” and “crazy”, the “ordinary” and the “weird”? Dali was not known for being an exceptional painter in his technique. He was known for his eccentricity, pushing the known boundaries, and creating concepts nobody had thought of before.
But maybe it was easier to achieve this in his time? Now it seems that everything has already been thought-of, invented, and communicated. Internet, social media, and mass communication have made ideas so accessible that even the brilliant, absurd ideas eventually become more “normal”. As soon as the idea is reproducible it is no longer unique, and therefore, in the eyes of many, no longer unusual or divergent.
Dali, however, remains inimitable. Untouchable. This is the second homage the Centre Pompidou in Paris has rendered to the artist, and he remains as impressive as in the first retrospective over 30 years ago. If the exhibit were free, I'd go again and again, just to be a little more crazy, like Dali.
21 November 2012 - 25 March 2013
Le Centre Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg