Dali at the age of six when he thought he was a girl lifting the skin of the water to see the dog sleeping in the shade of the sea

For me, this extravagantly titled 1950 painting by surrealist Salvador Dali captures the absurdity, the innocence and the complexity of what writers do.

Writers look at the world with fresh eyes, with all the curiosity and wonder of a child.

We peel back the skin, peer beneath the surface, to discover the unexpected delights and beating heart of a subterranean world that those who coast lightly on the surface may never know.

We walk naked, exposing ourselves alongside our discoveries as we share them with the world.

We do this knowing that not everyone will like, or even understand, what we do.

As Kate Grenville writes in the excellent Griffith REVIEW:

‘Each of us brings our own experiences, memories and prejudices to a work of art and looks at it through that unique lens. We all read the same words…but we all see different things.’

I look at Dali’s painting and I see myself, a writer, doing what writers do.

What do you see?

  1. Little Hat says:

    I’m intrigued by the shadow of the boy/girl Salvador/Salvadora. It appears to be held in mid air by his/her ponytail – rag doll like. It probably simply looks like it would look – the shadow of a child floating above the earth holding a sheet of water. Dali had a ‘very interesting mind” to say the least. I’m loath to interpret it too much – I am happy to simply enjoy the eccentricity.

    Yes I agree that the innocent eye is a quality many artists possess, along with the sceptical eye, the cynical eye, the wondering eye, the wise eye. I did a lot of clowning and clown training and the innocence and openness was what hooked me on that art form.

  2. chrisbongers says:

    Steve, your poet’s eye picked up on the word ‘innocent’, and I agree that the eyes have it, except of course for the jaded eye, which is anathema to the artist.
    BTW, Dali is Spanish, Catalan, actually, and you’ve just come back from there, haven’t you?

    • Little Hat says:

      Spain was great. We restricted ourselves to Andalucia having visited Barcelona previously. I highly recommend Sevilla – wonderful. The Andalucian’s don’t have much time for the Catalans, never having forgiven them, I suspect, for their role in the Inquisition. That and the radical Catalan’s drive to outlaw bullfighting. Perhaps Lorca and Dali didn’t see eye to eye (as it were) on political matters.

      • chrisbongers says:

        Steve, my clearest memory of backpacking through Spain in the late 1980s, was the pig’s ear in clear garlic soup that arrived at my table every night, irrespective of what I ordered. Years later it occurred to me that the soup must have been complimentary. Realising that at the time would have saved me so many arguments in sign language with exasperated waiting staff.

  3. Belén says:

    being anon artist I’ll give you a bit of trivia. Do you know that Dali achieved those incredible fine paintings using what according to him were the best paint brushes in the world? His moustache! He actually did try the homosexual thing with Spanish writer Garcia Lorca who was from Andalousia, but Dali dumped him.

  4. chrisbongers says:

    Trust my Spanish consultant to have all the goss! Dali had enough moustache to start his own movement (which I guess he did in a way.) A friend introduced me to his work in high school and this would have to be one of his least bizarre paintings. xx

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