Salvador Dali

From the real to the surreal, Salvador Dali embodied it all.
Once he was satisfied with his abilities to mimic what he
saw in the world, he began to play with objects and space.
He comprehended, perfected and finally transcended
realism and his work became much more than paint on
canvas.

In a forward that transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber
did for Alex Greyís book Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary
Art of Alex Grey, he stresses that "all of us possess the eye
of flesh, the eye of mind and the eye of spirit. We can
classify art in terms of which eye it mostly relies on. . . Each
of these eyes sees a different world Ė the world of material
objects, of mental ideas, of spiritual realities (respectively).
And each eye can paint what it sees. The higher the eye,
the deeper the art." Daliís work seems to parallel this
theory.

He began as a child genius of art. At the youthful age of 14,
his charcoal drawings patterned techniques that Claude
Monet is so renown for using. Dali was capable of
portraying Monetís stylistic texture in a texture-less
medium. By the time he reached his twenties, he perfected
this impressionistic style using oil paint on canvas. I believe
this is illustrated in The Three Pines, a painting which was
created when Dali was 15. Vague line definitions and
blending, vivid colors and values are just of few of the
comparisons that could be made between this and Monetís
Water Lilies, Green Harmony.

As he perfected this style, he became more realistic. A
perfect example is his oil

painting, Basket of Bread in which a simple woven basket
sits on a white table cloth with four slices of bread inside. A
simple black backdrop provides an excellent subdued
contrast to keep

your eye focused on the subject. The entire painting, done
by Dali at age 22, is so realistic that at first glance it seems
like a photograph. You can feel the folds in the cloth as
well as the harsh texture of the basket. The lighting and
shadows are perfect for the object and not at all over
baring. His placement of the object in the lower half of the
painting gives the entire piece a good sense of depth.

From this point, Dali encompassed and transcended
realism into pre-surrealism and finally surrealism. He started
to incorporate ideas into his paintings and move beyond the

material world. This signifies the beginning of the use of the
second eye that Ken Wilber discusses and the continuation
into what I believe to be the third eye. To explain this, here
is another quote from Ken Wilber taken from his discussion
of achieving the highest or deepest degree of art: "The
purpose of truly transcendent art is to express something
you are not yet, but can become." (Ken Wilber; One
Taste, p. 6) In Daliís painting, My Wife, Nude,
Contemplating her Own Flesh Becoming the Stairs, his
wife is seated with her back to us, staring at a surreal
depiction of her from our point of view. She is painted in
perfect realism with beautifully bright and natural colors.
Smooth lines and delicate shadows give us a taste of Daliís
talent with a brush. The definition and detail of her hair
makes it seem as though we can reach out and touch it. It
appears that a light breeze could sway it from perfection.

By the title alone, we can say that she is sitting there
contemplating her image in the distance changing before her
eyes. The image is not only surreal but majestic in nature.
The

value of the color differs from that of the realistic human. In
the human, they are dark and defined, where in the
contemplated object they are pastel and soft. The
contemplation barely resembles itís originator anymore but
holds just enough shape that you can place it. She watches
her image turn into a mechanical looking architectural
structure with a hollow center. The object is vulnerable to
destruction because of what little material is actually holding
it up. Stairs from the ground lead straight into the middle of
the object and beautiful Romanesque pillars augment the
hair. A statue stands atop a column inside the structure
where the heart would usually sit.

All of this can be taken literally as I am describing or you
can look deeper into it. A brief glance at my thoughts on it:
Itís a husbands view of his wife in which she sees herself as
she really is and contemplates from afar. She sees her body
open and unprotected with stairs leading you straight inside.
She welcomes her lover; her husband. This beautiful
architectural shrine