Creative eccentricity

This story happens on two continents, actually on a continent and an island of another continent. 
The main characters are a gifted artist with turned up and waxed moustache, a ballet buddy and an art lover (not so famous as Adrian).
At the beginning was an invitation. It came from my ballet buddy Catherine who has a very simpatico ability to organise wonderful cultural trips. 

The London adventure this time aimed for the immersive experience exhibition of the most popular surrealist in the world – Salvador Dali (the gifted artist).
The London visit took place on Monday and believe or not,  I (the obscure art lover) already had tickets for the ongoing exhibition of the Spanish painter in The Art Institute of Chicago on Thursday the same week.
 Splendid coincidence!
The showcase in London is digital. In a big hall of a former boiler building the art of Dali comes to life. His bizarre figures, unrecognisable forms, exotic animals and peculiar environments move around the walls, spread on the floor, emerge from the sky (ceiling), disappear and come back. 
The digital projections make the audience a part of this fantastical world which whispers its secrets and desires. Background electronic music adds additional flavour to the whole experience.
An epiphany moment (at least for me) reveals Dali’s passion for science and technology. He not only befriended some of the most distinguished scientists of 20th century as Freud and Einstein but he enthusiastically celebrated fundamental scientific achievements as discovery of the DNA and cybernetic. Dali was one of the first artists to work with computers.


The little shop at the exhibition end offers some souvenirs and Catherine buys a lovely print for her artist brother.
Chicago’s Dali exhibition is a traditional one. 
The queue in front of the room 289 (exhibition room)  is so long that it nearly reaches the nearby cafe. Inside the room a new very-slowly-moving queue is formed by visitors who want to read the curator’s notes about Dali’s life and artistic endeavours. 
Still, the moment you move away from the line even rescuing not to see the first few paintings, the mysterious land of surreal dreams and thoughts drags you as a magnet. 
The exploration of Dali’s “hand-painted dream photographs” demands intellectual efforts and at the same it is so alluring. 
Honestly, if someone ask me to choose between the two exhibitions I would not know what to say. What is evident to me is that the dreamy planet of the emblematic artist exists happily in any forms of presentation. 

The lighthearted London showcase exhibits a confident awareness that the visitors would gain unexpected insights into this familiar or not so familiar art.

Chicago exhibition raises the bar much higher, the audience know that the artist is brilliant and they are there to see, enjoy and memorise his brilliance with their own eyes. 
Excellent result for the genius of the self-promotion!

Racing out of a fireplace

There are many reasons to visit Chicago, Illinois. 
In my case one of the top attractions was the opportunity to spend time in the Modern Wing of The Art Institute of Chicago. 
The Modern Wing was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. If you have not heard of him I will mention only two of the buildings in his impressive professional portfolio – the George Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Shard in London. That will explain some of my excitement. 
The Wing was opened in 2009 and hosts extensive exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. 
The notorious art lover Adrian and I hastened to the second floor of the gallery, where there is a permanent exhibition of the paintings of my favourite modern artist, the Belgian surrealist  Rene Magritte. 
Here the dream comes true – I am in front of his painting “La duree poignarde”. The story goes that Rene Magritte did not like the literal English translation of the title, “ongoing time stabbed by a dagger”, so it is known as “Time Transfixed”.
 Strange title and strange painting. 
In the centre of the canvas is a white-grey fireplace. It is build in a room with a wooden floor, a greenish-yellow wall and yellow-brown wooden wall panelling. The fireplace is solid and well structured. On the mantelpiece are a black clock and two candle sticks. A mirror with a golden frame hangs above. The viewer can see the back of the clock and one of the sticks in the mirror. 
Everything appears stable, customary, boring. Well, nearly everything. From the fireplace a locomotive, at full steam, forges ahead. It appears to be coming out of a tunnel and moving at top speed through the air. Nothing will stop it.
What is this? Of course, it is not possible that a locomotive can come out of a fireplace. Some awkwardness and confusion creeps in because it is difficult to comprehend. What does the painter want to tell us? If he wanted to shock or surprise us he has  definitely succeeded.
The only way to grasp some understanding is to try to get behind the confusion. 
Where could a locomotive accelerate from a fireplace? A possible answer is – this happens in our mind, consciously and/or subconsciously. That is how we formulate innovations, ideas, thoughts, dreams. 
On the other hand, a possible interpretation is that the solid structures we build in our lives are never able to stop the march of time and change, even if we try. 
Or, maybe so called ordinary lives as depicted by the familiar room and fireplace are full of magic and mystery, we just need to open our eyes to them. 
As the cliche says, take what resonates with you. Wrapped in my thoughts I move to the next room. There is a group of small children, having a workshop guided by two art teachers. One of the teachers finishes his explanation and asks for questions. A little boy raises his hand and asks seriously, “Sir, was this artist on drugs when he painted this picture?”
Every perception counts.