Salvador Dali 1930-1960[Singles]
Medium: Watercolor, gouache, ink, and collage plastic stone arches on paper,
Study for Dali's
By Paul Chimera
Former Publicity Director of original Salvador Dali Museum
Here's an eye-opening painting from the 10-piece Alchemy of the Philosophers suite, that demonstrates Salvador Dali's use of symbolism and surrealism to create a finished product that's masterfully Dalinian!
An ouraboros is a circular symbol of a snake or dragon devouring its tail, representing a sense of infinity, wholeness, and unity of matter, and the eel-like creature biting its tail shows that the circle has no beginning and no end.
Alchemy has been associated with the Philosopher's Stone - a legendary substance that could transform ordinary metals into gold. It was also said to have properties that could restore youth or, put another way, fulfill man's timeless quest for eternal life.
What an ideal arena for Dali's polymath genius and vivid imagination, steeped as alchemy was in mysticism and mystery! It was a perfect platform from which Dali's creative energies could soar - especially with alchemy's power to meld the human soul with the Divine.
The serpentine figure in Dali's provocative composition devours its tail, while its eel-like body is segmented into seven parts. The number 7 recalls the seven states in the creation of the world and is regarded as a sacred number.
The golden circle around which the slithering creature is ringed suggests the Tibetan Mandala, a diagram for meditation based on geometric figures that, in most cases, are filled with images and symbols. The labyrinth of geometrical figures shows the different states that the adept must go through. In this case, the shape of the Labyrinth recalls the lines of the facets of a diamond.
If you examine some of the figures separately, you'll note a carefully drawn key - yet it is broken. It's the symbol of the rational mind of man, who perceives only fragments of knowledge. It's necessary to join these fragments to open the door of rational knowledge.
A broken key shaped as a bone recalls the necessity, for the adept, to dominate his own body. A flabby key is the symbol of the dreams and the powers of the subconscious to be dominated by the wise man. In the center, Dali expresses the result of the research, his vision of Unity: two masses, one male (full), the other female (hollow) - both balanced, attracted to and supporting each other.
Salvador Dali was utterly intrigued with the concept of alchemy, with its ancient pathway of purification and transformation, and its expansion of human consciousness. It can surely be said that Dali was a master at transforming paint, canvas, and other of the artist's raw materials into an alchemy of golden images that are truly immortal!