Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali, "Swans Reflecting Elephants," 1937
A couple of hours ago, I felt stifled by myself. I had missed an important phone call in my few hours of cell emancipation and now have to wait until tomorrow to find out whether the call was to deliver good news or bad. My mind couldn't help but convince me that it contained news of the latter description. Then I thought about 'The Secret' and how believing that it was news worth celebrating begins with acting as if you already know that the news is to come. Something like that. The thought crippled me. I wandered through multiple 'what if's' until I chose to do nothing. It was fear speaking. Fear that I will do everything that I can and that the news tomorrow will just disappointment me. Fear that I am not good enough. That my attempts to create an impression, huge enough to transform tomorrow's phone call into a much awaited one, were mediocre and no where near brilliance or perfection. I feared being a failure before I could actually fail. I wanted to do nothing; to sit in front of the television and melt into non existence.

"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings." Salvador Dali

Then I remembered Salvador Dali. The first time someone mentioned his name to me, I thought that he was a type of art style, much like fauvism and impressionism. When I was greater acquainted with his work, I realised that he was, in his own way, and to me.

Salvador Dali, "The Persistence of Memory"

When I chose to do art as a subject, I was afraid that I had made a mistake. My dad had wanted me to do accounting instead, and my marks for art were not proving that I had made the better choice. Then my teacher gave us an assignment: to do an ink drawing based on a collage of pictures. I had loved the elements of Surrealism in writing at the time and figured that it would be a good style choice for my art as well. I combined images from different Dali paintings, along with other images from paintings ('The Scream', 'The Escalator' and gollum)  and some of my own created images (the robot-headed butterflies and the cage shadowed with the words 'dream' and 'taciturn'). [Note, none of it was traced or stuck on - it was all drawn free-hand]. I added some lyrics (Metallica - Nothing Else Matters and Dave Matthews Band - The Space Between). I received 100% for the art piece...

It's a really bad photo of it.

Dali's drawing that first inspired my Surreal ink drawing

In Matric, during my final art practical exam, I hit that artist's wall. It was a piece on death inspired by one of my class-time-walk-a-bouts to the library. A friend and I went through dozens of books on World War 2, fascinated by the brutality portrayed in the photos. So I photocopied them and glued it all to my Masonite board and shadowed it with a thin layer of white paint. That was when I reached a creativity block. I disappeared to the library once more and stumbled upon Dali. Since then, he has always been my greatest source of inspiration; whenever I feel like I am at a dead end, his work reminds me that there are no limitations to one's mind. My piece of art was later displayed at the KZN Matric Art Exhibition.

A bit more than two years later, on my tour around London, I stumbled upon his museum. As I walked in, I felt like crying. I remember experiencing an inability to breathe yet a need to scream at the same time. I wanted to share my findings with the world, but knew that no one would ever really understand. At the time, I was going through my own rough patches and, once more, he reminded me how to take the next step forward. On going back to campus, I changed my degree in set forth in my new direction.

"Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them." Salvador Dali
To be honest, I know very little about Dali's life. You can read about him on the Internet, and at some point in my past I had read up on him but have forgotten everything other than the fact that his work as been a reoccurring source of inspiration for me. Because of him, I have surprised myself. So, maybe tomorrow will bring good news. If it doesn't, it will only serve as a step towards my true calling. Failing doesn't make me unsuccessful. The trick to success is to stay inspired, even when everything is crumbling around you. So tomorrow will just be another day that I continue Waiting for Dali... 
"The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents". Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali, "Metamorphosis of Narcissus"

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