Sunday, April 7, 2013

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)

"..a vast human body breaking out into monstrous excrescences of arms and legs tearing at one another in a delirium of auto strangulation"
                                                -Salvador Dali

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) is a painting by the late Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. The painting encompasses themes of eating, love, and war and the interrelation between the three. It was originally painted to represent the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, although it was painted six months prior. Dali claimed to have known the war was  going to occur to add to the "seemingly prophetic power of his unconscious mind," however an unstable climate of social and political unrest had existed in the country for years and it is likely that he may have changed the title after the outbreak of war to improve his prophetic image. The painting's hero is a gruesome humanoid monster seemingly tearing itself in two, it's face twisted in a grimace of both triumph and torture: a portrait of Spain through Dali's eyes. "A representation of the physical and emotional self-conflict in which Spain was both the victim and the aggressor" (John B. Ravenal) Dali used his signature "paranoiac-critical method" in this painting by contorting the massive limbs of the monster into an outline of the map of Spain. The smooth lines in the figure and the limp phallic form draped over the truncated hip give the figure a seemingly soft form giving it an almost natural, realistic feel, albeit no such creature exists in nature. Among the monstrous figure Dali has placed many other symbolic items. For instance, the painting has a numerous amount of boiled beans strewn about it's composition; Dali has been quoted saying that "one could not imagine swallowing all that unconscious meat without the presence of some mealy and melancholy vegetable."  For the background, Dali has painted a technicolor sky and parched landscape of his hometown Catalonia in a traditional fashion, creating contrast to the idea of revolution. There is also a small man looking down on the hand in the left corner of the painting, said to be a portrait of Sigmund Freud, whose work inspired Dali to embrace his nightmarish visions.

For more of Dali's work visit Espace Dali and Museum-Gallery Xpo: Salvador Dalí, Marquis de Púbol.


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