I recently had the opportunity to visit the Salvador Dalí retrospective at the Tomie Ohtake Institute which fortunately is close to where we live in São Paulo. Instituto Tomie Ohtake always put on excellent exhibitions, such as the recent retrospective of Japanese artist Yayoi Kasuma which saw record-breaking crowds lining up for hours to see her life’s work (see The Infinite Obsession of Yayoi Kusama).
Although I was expecting good things, I had not read any reviews of the Dalí exhibition, and so I did not know what was on display, and I have to say, I was blown away by just how good it was. I have been lucky enough to see many works of Dalí in London, Madrid, Marbella, New York and Santiago, but this retrospective was extremely comprehensive and covered all periods of Dali’s life and works.
The story of how this collection came together is amazing, and starts in 2009 when members of Instituto Tomie Ohtake began to research the possibility of bringing Dali to Brazil. On their travels they visited the three largest and most important Dali collections: Fundação Gala-Salvador Dalí in Figueres, Spain; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, and The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersbug, Florida.
After many meetings it finally became possible to bring together works from each of these three collections, and bring them to Brazil for the first time. The exhibition is divided into the following themes:
- Childhood and Youth
- Apprentice Painter heading to Surrealism
- Surrealism and the Surrealist Group
- United States
- Toward the Mystic Manifesto
- Other Media
- Optical Illusions
- Return to the Classics
I think one of the most amazing aspects was that I was not previously familiar with Dalís various sets of illustrations such as those for The Old Man and the Sea, Alice in Wonderland, Faust, Don Quixote as well as the beautifully humorous series of flowers and fruits.
The exhibition certainly rewards repeat visits, and as it is so close to my home, I have been twice. On the first occasion I was absolutely without any technology, no phone, camera and not even my watch. It was a pure experience which meant I did not have to be concerned with capturing the works photographically, releasing me to be totally present, in the moment, and really feeling the works as well as analysing the compositions.
Although of course my photos, of which I took many on my second visit, do capture some of the genius of Dalí, they simply can not compare to being in front of the original works. There is a feeling quite sensational for me being so close to genius, and when you fall into the experience of losing yourself in the brush or pen strokes, it is almost as if Dalí is there with you still, or the sensation of his presence.
What I plan to do over the coming weeks is to publish my photos in a number of series, based on the different themes from the exhibition. It was quite a challenge though to take high quality images due to the lighting which was bright which caused reflections on the glass in the frames. I did also take many close ups to capture some of the mesmerising details, so you will be able to explore his work close up, as I did.
The exhibition runs until January 11th, so for those of you in and around São Paulo this Christmas, it is absolutely worth your while visiting. I have to finish this introductory article by congratulating the Tomie Ohtake curators, and those who contributed to the project from the other museums. A brilliant exhibition of a genius artist.