1. The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989) is a prominent Spanish painter who worked in surrealistic tradition and made a great contribution to a new sense of contemporary arts. Dali is well-known for his deeply psychological, provocative, often outraging and shocking works, in which he touched a lot of themes ignored or softened before him. Social matters, inner problems and complexes of an individual, existential anguish and philosophical prospects have made up his legacy, though many of them being a hint or association, guessed from historical or biographical context. Surrealists, and Dali not an exception, had an intention to destabilize solid social, political and cultural standards and norms.
The Persistence of Memory (in origin La persistencia de la memoria) was painted in 1931, and managed to become one of the most brilliant and the most recognizable works of Dali.
On the background we see a desert shore (the coast of Catalonia), almost invisible line dividing the sea and the sky. The main objects of the painting are the melting watches. One of them is hanging on a tree, the other one is slowly flowing down the table. The third is orange, apparently withered and covered with ants, which in Dali’s language stands for death. The fourth watch is situated on the face. This face is Dali himself, often depicted in the same way, with his lashes down. The entire scene is filled with the sense of not-being; the time is stopped and the main figure is dreaming; the reality is drifting away and living no hope for something to change.
The image of the desert shore is imminently contributing to the feeling of emptiness inside the painter himself and thus of loneliness. Loneliness should not be understood in the sense of personal life, but this is a true solitude of a genius, having no one to understand him, having no variants of a route to take and knowing something special that is hidden from others. Hidden truth is revealed in symbols, coming into contradiction with the laws of physics. Rigid things are not rigid; time has no direction and thus there is no conventional entropy. Soft watches have been decoded in correlation with relative theory. Meanwhile, the man is lost in its presence between the world of real and unreal, and no soul can share this feeling with him. The world of reality is discredited. Moreover, the landscape is rendered at the moment of soft twilight, with the sky very slowly turning dark and the sun going away. This is a time when grief and sorrow are the most frightening, as the contrast between day and night is sensed specially.
Further, the feeling of outcast is enhanced by the posture of the Dali’s figure, looking both like a face and like a whole body simultaneously. It is simply lying on the ground, available to all the winds and disasters, but he doesn’t care and is fully buried by dreams and memories. It turns out that only his memories stay resistant and do not live him; only in them a man can find an illusion of stability and calmness. It is interesting to remark that the entire atmosphere, though coming from unreal, immaterial things such as the past, memory and dreaming, the atmosphere at the same time is hyper-realistic; the reason is obviously in the technique used by Dali, which is filling the scene with exquisite, meticulous details that create a hallucinatory effect.