Salvador Dali: In Search of Immortality (2018) Movie Script

I made myself among these rocks,
I formed my personality here,
I discovered my love, I painted
my work, I constructed my home.
I cannot separate myself from
this sky, this sea, these rocks,
I am bound forever to Portlligat,
where I have defined all my most
sincere truths and my roots.
We are in front of the house
at Portlligat bay,
the only home Dal ever had,
and this is important because
the whole house can be
thought of as a workshop.
It was a vital place for him,
he needed to soak up the
And this house represented
the intimate Dal,
the Dal who could concentrate,
who could create,
and above all else,
it is the one place in the world
where he decided to create
a house to live in and a studio
in which to paint.
Dal's relationship with
Cadaqus began early.
His father, the notary,
who was born there,
had a house on the
Es Llaner beach.
Dal spent his holidays there and
had very fond memories of it,
since he associated the village
with the summer and free time;
far from his school studies, it was
a time he could devote to painting.
In his childhood diaries, Dal,
during the winter in Figueres,
often recalled Cadaqus wistfully.
I spent a delicious summer,
as always,
in the ideal and dreamy
village of Cadaqus.
There, beside the Latin sea,
I gorged myself on light and colour.
I spent the torrid days of summer
painting frenetically
and striving to capture the
incomparable beauty of the sea
and the sun-drenched beach.
For Dal, Cadaqus was light,
freedom, colour...
Impressionism, and then
Figueres was more functional,
the place where he went to
school, which he didn't like...
Salvador, who doesn't take
holidays as other children do,
works constantly and thus makes the
most of our summers in Cadaqus.
Many days, by sunrise
he is all ready to start painting.
On other days he spends hours and
hours in the studio,
from the break of dawn
until sunset.
His sister Anna Maria Dal,
four years younger than him,
was fascinated by her
talented brother,
for whom she posed as a model
and for whom she felt a great
affection and closeness.
When he painted me, I was
always near a window,
and so my eyes had time to fix
on the smallest details:
the way Salvador's retinae captured
the atmosphere of the village,
the luminosity that filtered
into his body
and then flowed from his fingers
which handled the brushes...
It's a process I have always
marvelled at,
because it is the process that
creates the work of art.
At home it would take
place very often,
with the greatest simplicity
and naturalness.
I was going out with my brushes and
my canvases, painting the coast,
and one day I discovered a hut.
From then on, I saved myself
the trouble of carrying my
materials back and forth.
This hut was in a little bay,
known as Portlligat,
fifteen minutes walk from Cadaqus,
on the other side of the cemetery.
From this moment on, Dal intensely
explored this new landscape,
a setting from which he would
never separate himself.
He even declared on
at least one occasion
that he himself was Cap de Creus.
The identification was and
is total, so much so that
Dal's work cannot be understood
without having visited this landscape.
Portlligat is one of the most arid,
mineral and planetary places on Earth.
And in this modesty of nature I
discerned the very principle of irony.
Observing how the forms of
those motionless rocks moved,
I meditated on my own rocks,
those of my thoughts.
In the bay at Portlligat there
are some huts by the sea.
These are ramshackle constructions in
which the fishermen kept their tools.
One of these huts belonged to a
fisherman's widow: Ldia Noguer.
The friendship between the young Dal
and Ldia continued until her death,
and she would come to
play a fundamental role
in one of the most difficult
moments in the artist's life.
In fact, Dal felt a great
fascination for Ldia,
to the extent of declaring
that 'Ldia possesses
the most magnificent paranoiac
brain, aside from my own,
that I have ever encountered.'
Young Dal must have been
fascinated by Ldia,
who told stories to all
the children,
stories that she quite often took
out of the newspapers
she used to wrap the fish
in she sold.
Ldia's madness is a moist,
soft madness,
full of seagulls and lobsters,
it is a plastic madness.
Don Quijote rides through
the air and
Ldia through the air of the
How wonderful Cadaqus is!
And how wonderful it is to
draw a parallel
between Ldia and the
last knight-errant.
During Dal's early years landscape,
his family and he himself were
the focus of his work,
which swung back and forth between
tradition and avant-garde.
For Dal, his creative work was
also a means of experimentation
which allowed him to open up to and
discover the latest tendencies in art.
This experimentation
led him to Surrealism,
a movement of which he became
one of the outstanding figures.
And this painting is a reflection of this
new line, of amputated bodies,
severed hands, arteries, veins,
now time painted in an almost
hyperrealist manner, isn't it?
And he feels the need to move on,
he feels rather trapped in the
classical approach to art.
My brother went to Paris
with Luis Buuel
to make the film Un Chien Andalou,
and there he made contact
with various
members of the Surrealist group,
who visited Cadaqus that summer.
It was the summer of '29.
He lost the spiritual peace
and the well-being
that his work had reflected
up until then.
The paintings he was making were
horribly hallucinatory.
What he sculpted on his canvases
were authentic nightmares,
and those disturbing figures
that seemed to want to
explain something inexplicable
were a torture.
Lugubrious Game is the
most representative example
of the paintings of that
period and the one
that most clearly reflects the change
in spirit he had undergone.
But it seems to me there were
mixed emotions here.
It wasn't just Surrealism that
Anna Maria didn't like.
It's rather a familial vision,
but it's where Dal set about
finding a style of his own and
was able to affirm himself with
a specific current, isn't it?
Mir introduced him to Paris
society and, most important,
he made his first contact with
the Surrealists, among them,
Paul luard and the viscount
Noailles who were to become
Dal's patrons and would
have a major role in
financing the house in Portlligat.
1929 was a decisive year
in Dal's life:
he met Gala, who was to be
his partner and muse.
Dal spent the summer in
Cadaqus, where he was visited
by the gallery owner Goemans
and his partner,
and also Luis Buuel,
Ren Magritte,
and Paul luard and his wife Gala,
with their daughter Ccile.
Thus, in four days, I found
myself surrounded
for the first time by Surrealists,
who were drawn there above all
by the remarkable personality
they discovered in me.
Because Cadaqus could offer
none of the indispensable amenities
of a leisure resort if you didn't
have a house of your own there.
Then Dal dramatized this gathering,
it was very important to him,
it represented everything
he was looking for at that moment.
And, as he recounts in fantastical
fashion in his autobiography,
he fell madly in love with Gala
and was eager to impress her.
When the group returned to
Paris in September,
Gala stayed on for a few
weeks in Cadaqus,
and from that moment on she was
always at the painter's side.
She said to me: 'My boy!
We shall never separate.'
She was destined to be my
Gradiva, 'she who advances',
my victory, my wife.
But for this to happen she had to
heal me, and she healed me!
The morality of the Dal house
was far more conventional and
so it was, quite clearly, a revolution,
a revolution in the family home,
which was difficult to swallow.
They were able to accept it,
in due course, but not immediately.
And Dal found that while his sister
struggled to understand
the painting Lugubrious Game, for
example, Gala readily understood it.
That summer was all it took to
bring about in Salvador
the change that distanced
him from his friends,
from us and even from himself.
The river of his life,
so well channelled,
was diverted by the pressure
from those complicated beings,
who were unable to understand
anything of the classic
landscape of Cadaqus.
My father was seriously concerned.
He tugged at his white hair,
a sign that something was
troubling him greatly,
and his usually smiling,
optimistic face betrayed a fear
of some tragic event.
Dal's relationship with Gala,
begun that summer,
prompted his father the
notary to change his will,
and practically disinherited his son.
The situation was made worse
by the painting Dal exhibited
at the Goemans gallery
in Paris:
an image of the Sacred Heart
on which Dal had written:
Sometimes I Spit With Pleasure
On The Portrait Of My Mother,
which caused the family
a lot of unhappiness.
The fact that our subconscious
impulses are
often felt as extremely cruel
to our conscious mind
is yet another reason for not
failing to manifest them
when they are the friends of truth.
The greater part of these
manifestations were perfectly unjust,
but what I was trying to do
was to affirm my will to power
and to prove to myself that I was
still inaccessible to remorse.
I think it was part of this process
we have talked about,
of transformation,
of a radical break,
and that it was a
declaration to that effect.
What happened is that it was
interpreted at a particular moment
and taken very literally.
In any case, it was a provocation
and he knew that, didn't he?
His father let him go to
Cadaqus with Luis Buuel,
because he thought a
period of rest
and separation would help him
rediscover his true self
and his love of everything
he had loved up until then.
But his father's plan failed.
The young Dal was more and more
caught up in the Surrealist movement,
in which he had found a new means of
expression through the subconscious,
which revealed a whole world
hidden by the conscious mind.
A few days later I received
a letter from my father,
informing me that he had banished
me irrevocably from the family.
When I received this letter, my first
reaction was to cut off my hair.
But I went even further:
I shaved my whole head.
I went to bury my hair, so black,
in a hole I dug in the beach
for this purpose.
And where I also buried the pile
of shells of the sea urchins
I had eaten at midday.
After that, I climbed a small hill
that overlooks the village of
and there, sitting under
the olive trees,
I spent two interminable
hours contemplating
the panorama of my childhood,
my adolescence and my present.
The artist's father found out
about his son's intention of
returning to Cadaqus.
Furious, he tried in every
way possible
to keep Dal and Gala
out of Cadaqus.
A good example of this is the letter
Dal's father sent to Luis
Buuel in Paris:
If you still maintain your
friendship with my son,
you could do me a favour.
I do not write to him as
I am ignorant of his address.
He left yesterday evening for Paris,
where I believe he will
remain for eight days.
You will know where
Madame resides,
and could advise my son not to
seek to return to Cadaqus,
for the simple reason that he will
not be able to stay in that village
for even two or three hours.
Then things will become
so complicated for him that
he will be unable to
return to France.
Should this measure fail I will resort
to every means at my disposal
including assault on his person.
My son will not go to Cadaqus,
he should not go, he cannot go.
Dal's father learned of his
intention of buying a house
in or near Cadaqus.
Dal wanted to buy the fisherman's
hut owned by Ldia Noguer,
which he was using as
a storeroom and studio.
His father did all he could
to prevent this, but Ldia,
who felt a great affection for the
young Dal, took no notice.
With the money he gained
from selling his painting
The Old Age of William Tell to
the viscounts of Noailles,
Dal was able to buy the
fisherman hut.
It was Dal's triumph: that is to say,
he couldn't come to Cadaqus,
he couldn't have a house,
but he had a house there,
and at the very moment that
his father told him he couldn't.
So it's also a symbol of Dal's
triumph once again.
I spent the whole evening
looking at the cheque
and for the first time
I began to suspect that
money was a very important thing.
With that and Gala's money
we would go to Cadaqus
and build a house large
enough for the two of us.
This would allow us to work and get
away to Paris from time to time.
.The only landscape that
I like is that of Cadaqus
and I didn't want to look
at any other.
So, this was the first hut,
the one Ldia bought,
a very small hut of
22 square metres,
and this is where they made their life.
A really confined space which
they used for everything.
And what he did was to
reinvent the hut for himself
to make it into a 22 square
metre house,
which amounts to
a bedroom, a living room,
a studio and a small
service space
which would be the one upstairs
where there was a shower, kitchen
and bathroom, and that was all.
It was necessary to walk
very carefully,
almost sideways,
between things,
because it was an
extremely small space.
I wanted it to be small:
the smaller, the more intrauterine.
Not being in a position to carry out
any of my delirious decorative ideas,
I just wanted the exact proportions
required for the two of us
and only the two of us.
But as an artist's studio it didn't work,
so Dal did the whole
conversion to transform it
into his first studio at Portlligat.
And there was no electricity,
there was no water;
it was, he said, an ascetic life:
here I learned to hone myself down
and live with the bare necessities.
It was here in Portlligat that
I learned to impoverish myself,
to limit and hone my thinking so
it would be as efficient as an axe,
where blood tasted like blood
and honey tasted like honey.
A life that was hard,
without metaphor or wine,
a life with the light of eternity.
The idle chit-chat of Paris,
the lights of the city
and of the jewels of "rue de la Paix",
could not resist this other light,
total, age-old, poor, as serene
and intrepid as the concise
brow of Minerva.
And then, of course, a month later
he was able to buy this second hut,
he made this opening, and at once
he had more space and more light.
So now we are in what would
become the dining room,
but was initially the second studio,
the second cell of this cellular
growth of the house.
What did he do with this space?
His aim was to turn it into
a place to work and paint in,
so what he needed, first and
foremost, was to let light in.
And what did he do to
let light in?
Well, basically, make a window to let
in overhead light from the north,
which was very important to him,
and convert what was a little
window in a little fisherman's hut
into a splendid
panoramic window
which let the
landscape into his house.
Six years had gone by
since the family rift,
and Salvador Dal hadn't
seen his father since 1929.
During that time he had
worked tirelessly,
while moving between Paris,
New York and the house in Portlligat.
He was combining Paris with
occasional trips to New York,
and he set himself apart in Paris,
he had two very important
individual exhibitions,
he was acquiring ever greater
importance within the Surrealist group,
and at the same time
getting to know Americans
who would open doors for
him in the United States,
which was to be a new
phase for him,
he combined this house in Portlligat
with two outstanding centres of art,
one being Paris, and the other,
the future, New York.
At the very beginning, of the two
huts, the upper one was a terrace,
a terrace which must
have been splendid,
from the pictures we have of it.
Here we see Gala and Dal and the
friends who came to visit them,
with a sunshade, the terrace
furniture, etc...
What happened is, in due course,
these two terraces ended up becoming
a new studio and a new living space.
His relationship with Gala was
stable and they formed a tandem,
strengthened by the ever increasing
number of commissions.
The time had come to close old
wounds. On March 3rd, 1935,
the meeting and reconciliation
with his family took place.
That same year, the Dals considered
extending their home again,
and they contacted Emili Puignau,
the man who was to take
charge of all the work
that would be done on the house.
And he always knew
how to get it done,
however difficult it may have been,
and he explains in his book that
at times it was very difficult
to achieve what Dal was asking for,
but nevertheless he did his utmost
and the house took shape,
because Dal was the
architect of this house.
He designed it, it was in his head,
he even had them cut back the
rock to make this fireplace,
which he sketched, and
which became a constant.
He sketched many of the fireplaces,
not only here, but later for Pbol too.
The painter's interest in the
house was aesthetic:
for example, that the roofs
should form
a series of steps leading
down to the sea.
Dal was always in a hurry to
get things done,
so when he was asked
when he wanted something for,
he would answer:
'Yesterday.' So it didn't take us long
to do the bodies of the buildings.
That was in the autumn of '35
and they had to be finished
for the coming summer.
The construction was completed, apart
from some details, in July of 1936.
A fateful date,
coinciding as it did with the
outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
The peaceful, contemplative life
Dal and Gala led in Portlligat
was cut short by the imminent Spanish
Civil War that divided the country
and plunged it into misery
and uncertainty,
an uncertainty which the
Dals had sensed for some time,
especially Gala, who went through
the Russian Revolution.
'The Civil War had begun!'
I knew it, I was certain of it,
I had predicted it! And Spain,
with another war,
was to be the first country
called to resolve
with the stark reality of
violence and blood.
All of the insoluble ideological
dramas of post-war Europe,
all of the aesthetic anxiety of the
isms polarized in two words,
revolution and tradition.
When I went to Portlligat
the next day,
the Dals told me they were
alarmed and uneasy.
I tried to reassure them, saying
that nothing could happen,
but they at once said that
they weren't so sure.
Gala said to me: 'mon petit,
we cannot take any risks.'
Who could have known then
that it would be twelve years
before I saw them again and
before they could live in the house,
that meant so much to them?
During the years of the
Spanish Civil War,
the Dals moved from
place to place around Europe,
waiting for their return to Portlligat.
They were mostly in Italy
and France,
interspersed with sporadic
trips to the United States,
where Dal had begun to take
his place in the public eye
and where he saw the opportunity to
make his fortune through his work.
In fact, we can say that
Dal hardly saw Portlligat
from 1936 until 1948 - a long time.
The reasons for this were
the Civil War,
which kept him from
returning to his country,
and then the Second World War,
which he spent in the United States.
I could feel the rise of the
blind forces of fury,
of destruction and death that
would dislocate Europe.
When, three days later,
war was officially declared,
Gala, always alert, immediately
thought of our escape.
Gala left for Lisbon in 1940 and
waited for Dal to join her
a few days later to make the
definitive move to the United States.
Before leaving,
Dal visited his family,
who had suffered the
consequences of the war.
He travelled for 24 hours to get to
his father's house in Cadaqus.
I had to pass through ten villages
in ruins, their walls, like ghosts,
were silhouetted in the moonlight
like Goya's drawings
of the horrors of battle,
and my heart shrank in traversing that
labyrinth of the miseries of war.
In people's memory, the wounds
of martyrdom had not yet healed,
and my coming there at that
time was met with mistrust.
"Papa!", "Who's there?
What do you want?"
"It's me." "Who?"
Me, Salvador Dal, your son.
So I knocked on my father's door,
in Cadaqus,
at two o'clock in the morning.
I embraced my family.
They gave me anchovies, sausages,
and tomatoes dressed with olive oil.
I chewed the food, astonished
and terrified!
The morning following
my return to Cadaqus
I hugged the heroic Ldia,
who had survived everything.
I went with her to visit
our house in Portlligat.
I opened the door of my home.
Everything was gone.
There was nothing left of
my library, absolutely nothing;
only walls covered with
obscene drawings
and conflicting political emblems.
I pushed aside the waste with my
foot and went outside, to the sun.
New skin, new land! And a land
of freedom, if that is possible!
I have chosen the geology of a
country that was new to me
and was young, virgin, and free
from drama, that of America.
Upon arriving in America, I went
almost immediately to Hampton Manor,
the residence of Caresse Crosby,
our friend from the time at
Moulin du Soleil.
We were all going to try to make
the sun shine again, a little,
that sun of France which had set.
As soon as we arrived I set up
my easel with two large canvases
and I painted "Spider of the
Evening... Hope!"
and "Resurrection of the Flesh".
He also saw how the centre of
the art word was shifting
from Paris to New York, so he
was where he needed to be,
despite the fact that he was
exiled against his will.
But I think he knew how to read
the situation well and positively,
insofar as it wasn't a
pleasant experience,
and took the opportunity to find
out how the United States worked,
to consecrate himself once
and for all.
Mr. Salvador Dal gives a party.
The Spanish painter of surrealism
dresses Mrs. Dal in a unicorn's head,
just to start things off.
As hostess she presides
from a red velvet bed,
Soldier Jackie Coogan and the
still dapper Mr. Hope
serve the main course.
The party is surrealism,
but them frogs is real!
And though his work evolves in
tandem with his experiences,
both personal and artistic,
in the United States,
the references to the landscape of
Cadaqus and Portlligat are still there.
He remembered with
melancholy the lights and colours,
and in his portraits of members
of American high society,
the presence of the
landscape is a constant.
...or in the animated short
Destino, with Walt Disney in 1946,
where the landscapes and
reminiscences of Portlligat
are ever-present.
In the United States he sought
the life he had here,
and that's why he combined
New York, the exhibition season,
the art season in New York,
and then the move to Monterrey,
where he always looked for
landscapes like those of Portlligat
or which evoked Portlligat for him.
During this long period of absence,
the Dal family took care of the house.
In 1944 Dal's father wrote to
his son to say that
a close friend of Anna Maria,
Dal's sister,
would live in and look after the
house in Portlligat
until he came back from the
United States.
Anna Maria has let them
have the house
so they may live there
without paying rent,
but with the condition,
which they have fulfilled,
of repairing it at their expense,
and have left it as good as new,
so that the cession of the house
in no way disadvantages you,
whereas left unoccupied
it would have deteriorated
and you would have lost
almost everything.
We go on as before, with no news,
and calmly await your return,
which I am sure you wish for
after four years of absence.
The bomb in Hiroshima
exploded in an immaculate sky.
Pikadon, 'light and noise',
the Japanese who
managed to escape said.
I was painting Gala
naked from behind
when I felt the seismic shock of
the explosion.
It filled me with terror.
What horrified me was the thought of
the possibility of a chain of explosions
that could have reached
the whole world
before I finished the perfect
breast of my Galarina.
No one was safe, wherever
they may have been.
I decided
to study, without delay,
the best means of preserving my
precious existence
from the clutches of death,
and I began to occupy myself
in earnest with the formulas
of immortality.
Atomic Melancholy, which
I painted at that time,
expresses the doubts and certainties
that were born in me
on the 6th of August, 1945.
The war was over, but it would
take Dal and Gala
another three years to
get back to Portlligat.
Acclaimed as an international artist,
he had achieved what
he had dreamed of.
His popularity in the
United States can
only be compared
to that of movie stars,
stars whom he knew and
socialized with.
His work was on shown in the
leading museums and salons.
Papa has a great desire for you to
come home, you cannot imagine it,
everything he does shows
how eager he is for your return.
Auntie and I are also looking
forward enormously to the day
we shall all be reunited in
our little house in Cadaqus,
our little house from when
we were small.
1948 came, and with it the long-
awaited return of the Dals to Spain,
and to the centre of his
Universe: Portlligat.
From the bridge of the ship, I looked
at New York with satisfaction.
What joy in finding once again the
transcendent beauty of Portlligat,
my kingdom, my Platonic cave.
I am in transit.
I forget the pride of the
skyscrapers and the agitation,
the noise, the American frenzy.
From the point of hyper-snobbism
at which I have arrived,
I have no alternative but to
feel I am a mystic.
The newspapers took an interest
in Dal and Gala's return.
On August 1st, 1948, the daily La
Vanguardia published an article
recounting a meeting with the artist on
the very day he arrived in Portlligat.
I am not the man who stole a
landscape, the landscape stole me.
I want to get back to
painting my mythology
with the precise places
seen in a new way.
In keeping with the new physics,
it is no longer Freudian
psychology that attracts me
but the geography of the places
where mythologies live on.
'Salvador Dal has returned...'
The press take up the story,
the family reunion continues,
it's a very sweet moment,
and of course he returned to his home
and carried on with his
project of extending it.
In the summer of 1948, Dal and
Gala, after twelve years' absence,
had already decided to make Portlligat
their place of permanent residence.
Dal needed a space to work in,
but also to sort out...
and accumulate everything his life
as a hotel nomad hadn't
let him store away.
His financial situation
was comfortable,
they could extend the house
with a new cell and furnish it.
They bought another
hut, also of 22 square metres,
and a piece of land,
which is an olive grove,
enabling them to add to the house
what are now the living
room and the library.
The builder Puignau also
undertook this second extension,
and since they worked
without an architect,
he followed the artist's indications
in the form of letters, plans,
designs and sketches.
With his departure for Paris in 1948,
we started the work of
rebuilding the hut
so that it would be ready
for his return the year after,
just as we always did...
In the spring of 1949, the house
was ready to be lived in.
Gala took charge of the decorating
and bought pieces of furniture
from various antique shops
in the area.
And he even had this mirror
placed in a special way,
he took care, you know,
in positioning the mirrors
because he said that in this way,
from the room, from the bedroom,
he would be the first man in
Spain to see the sun rise.
As I was having breakfast, I watched
the sun rise and it struck me that
Portlligat being geographically
the most easterly point of Spain,
every morning I am the first
Spaniard to feel the sun's caress.
Even in Cadaqus,
which is ten minutes
from here, the sun arrives later.
The home that Dal had to abandon
for years on account of the war
had now been recovered
and his inner peace
and his landscapes were
But a new conflict emerged
with the publication of his sister
Anna Maria's autobiography,
in which she declared her aversion to
Surrealism and rejection of Gala.
With this book, old wounds
were reopened
and the family was divided
once again.
Salvador had said that,
far from the family,
when he saw our little house
in Cadaqus,
the scene of all his childhood
and adolescence,
it made think of a lump of sugar
covered in bitterness.
This image could not be more real,
though it must be remembered that
he bitterness he saw was bitterness
that he, thanks to the
Surrealist group, had put there,
making us victims of the
decadent world
which he unfortunately
but from which all of us have
always kept our distance.
His father found himself in
a difficult situation,
but he took his daughter's side,
as the foreword he wrote for
Anna Maria's book clearly shows.
At the same time, the decision by
Dal's father and sister
to sell some early paintings without
his consent, deeply offended Dal.
The break had become definitive.
The artist closed the doors of his
home in Portlligat to his family
and only opened them again a few
days before his father's death.
In the two previous seasons,
he spent in Portlligat
Dal had used the so-called
yellow room as his studio:
the room off the stairway
leading to the first floor.
However, this room was
really too small
for painting in reasonable comfort,
so that same year, taking
advantage of
the neighbors decision to
sell their hut,
which was next to the Dal's house,
they bought it without so much
as discussing the price,
since it was a unique opportunity
to make another extension.
And Dal had already begun to
explore new formats,
with much larger canvases, and here
he didn't have the space he needed.
Yes, in terms of light;
yes, in terms of views,
but not in terms of space.
As was his custom,
Dal drew up the basic scheme of
how his new studio should be.
He had thought it all out.
The work was done, as before,
during the part of the year they
spent in Paris and New York.
The wall that formed a little
vestibule with the door to his studio
had to have the Dal stamp,
so the large door
or opening for communication had to
be a truncated isosceles triangle,
and the fireplace situated next to this
opening would be like the opening,
but upside down.
A very different design from
what we were used to.
In the spring of 1950 the Dals
returned from their annual trip to Paris
and the United States.
His great desire was to see
the studio completed.
At last he had a studio with maximum
capacity to receive light from outside;
at last he had a studio whose
windows all looked out
on the landscape of Portlligat,
so that the landscape really
did invade the studio completely.
What's more, it was a studio
whose space was
really suitable for the new
canvases, the new formats.
The first painting he did in the
definitive studio was
The Madonna of Portlligat,
a supremely mystic-nuclear work,
conceived over the winter and
perfectly structured in his mind,
all he needed was a suitable
place to paint it.
And the new studio was ideal.
Then he had the idea,
aided by Emili Puignau,
for this metal framework which
at first was manual
and later worked with a push
button to move up and down,
so that Dal always had the part of the
canvas he was painting in front of him.
And then with the maulstick
and the brush he would paint.
He would go over to the bench and
contemplate, and it was this to and fro.
Here, for example he finished The
Madonna of Portlligat,
he painted The Battle of Tetuan,
the canvases for the ceiling
of the Theatre-Museum,
and these and other large canvases
that would be rolled up and passed
out through this window.
But even though he now
had the new studio,
Dal wasn't progressing
at his usual rate.
His father was ill and Dal knew
he had to go and see him
before his inevitable death.
In September of 1950 his father died.
Dal's grief was profound.
It was a major blow for Dal,
because his father was his mentor
and he would always have
his example in mind.
Dal never forgot when his
father once said to him,
when they would be arguing together:
'You will die alone and poor.'
And he sometimes said his
life had been a struggle
to prove his father wrong.
His father's death reawakened
the fear of falling ill
and dying that Dal felt from
an early age and
rekindled his interest in immortality
and in particular, hibernation.
I have made the decision that,
immediately after my demise,
I am to be preserved to await the
discovery that will allow humanity
one day to revive the brilliant Dal.
I am certain that a cure will be
found for cancer,
that astonishing transplants
will be performed
and that the rejuvenation of
cells is only days away.
Coming back to life will be
an ordinary operation.
I will await in liquid helium,
without impatience.
In due course, Dal
returned to normal,
to his daily routine of
painting and writing.
In short, he recovered his capacity to
work and his extraordinary rhythm.
He would get up early and
paint until lunchtime.
Afterwards, without lingering at
the table, he took a short nap,
then went back to the studio to paint
for the rest of the day until evening.
After years of exile,
successes and tragedies,
a great deal of work and effort,
the cells have come together to form
the great mother cell: his home.
Our house has grown exactly like
a true biological structure,
in cellular outgrowths.
Each new impulse in our life has its
corresponding new cell: a room.
The nucleus was formed by the
paranoiac delirium of Ldia,
who gifted us the first cell.
A few years have passed since the
creation of his definitive studio.
Dal's house has been extended
with additions of gardens
with olive trees around the
house down to the sea.
The house has become a place of
pilgrimage for many people
and also for the media from
all over the world.
Dal is a world-famous artist, and now
everyone knows where to find him.
The first thing this is that he now
constructed part of the house
as a public place, a reception
area and a kind of open-air studio
where he could work in
collaboration with visitors,
other artists, younger people,
people who contribute
to the temperature of modernity.
Dal went on with his life
at Portlligat,
a life tied to the evolution
of his work,
now expanding into happenings
and performances,
some of which now take shape in the
outdoor spaces of the house.
It was this combination
of innovation
but let's make this clear,
because I think it's interesting,
that Dal, who was always
also wanted to explain
how he experimented
and above all for everyone to
know how he experimented.
Of course, because he wanted to
get through to people.
He didn't want to be an artist
enclosed in some kind of ivory tower
who someone might be
interested in some day,
he wanted to get through to people,
he wanted people to think about
the things he was thinking about.
These were new forms of creation,
because the world was
becoming smaller for him,
and his sense of this gave him
a need to grow,
to grow where he could,
in means, in thought,
in the company of other artists or
cameras, or whatever.
And above to project outwards,
to the world, always.
The house was now a
complex cellular structure
which the Dals had completed
with the passage of time,
and had grown to include spaces
like the swimming pool
or the what he called milky way.
There is a whole Pop aesthetic:
Pirelli, the Lips sofas,
which is a Dal classic,
but the pool in this form, out of
One Thousand and One Nights,
with some inspiration
from the Alhambra.
Yes, it has exactly the perspective
of the Alhambra Pool.
Which is funny because in fact the
idea for the pool came from
a piece of polystyrene, didn't it?
You can see it in the studio.
Yes, it's in the studio.
The chronological evolution of
the house is linked, naturally,
to Dal's artistic evolution,
and to the movements in art that
were happening at that time,
because Dal, with his curiosity,
was very much aware of
what was happening.
He was interested in
American abstract art,
he was interested in hyperrealism,
he was interested in Pop Art,
but we can see that what
he worked most at, really,
was installation and he was
but he would end the Eighties,
once again, with the great classics.
Even though Dal was
combining travel,
happenings and work in his studio
in the Portlligat house,
from 1970 one project absorbed and
concentrated much of his time:
the Dal Theatre-Museum in Figueres,
a centre in which he invested
his energy and his hopes.
In his studio he prepared the great
ceiling of the Palace of the Wind
where he depicted Gala
and himself,
the stereoscopic paintings born
of his interest in optical illusions
and double images,
and many of the ideas and elements
that make up the Dal universe,
brought together here almost
as if this were a testament to
his life and his art.
In this task he had the
invaluable support of his friend,
the artist Antoni Pitxot.
Dal was invited to design
a nightclub in Acapulco,
and he gave it an oval form
inspired by the sea urchin.
It was never built, but Gala, who
followed the process very closely,
was impressed by the structure
Dal had conceived.
And she asks him to apply it
in as the new extension
at his home in
Portlligat: the oval room.
Everything celebrates
the cult of Gala,
even the round room,
with its perfect echo,
which crowns the whole
built complex
and is like the dome of
this galactic cathedral;
This is the last cellular
extension of the Portlligat house
which in turn became the first cellular
extension of the Castle of Pbol
which a few years later Dal gave
as a present to Gala.
Exactly one year ago I discovered the
ruins of the noble Castle of Pbol,
I took Gala there with her eyes
closed and I gave it to her.
Three months later, on our
way back to New York,
in the middle of the ocean,
at 5 o'clock teatime,
Gala took me by the hand
and suddenly said to me:
'I accept the Castle of Pbol,
but with only one condition:
that you will only come to visit me
at the castle by written invitation.'
Because she found the
atmosphere at Portlligat,
where Dal was visited by so many
people, rather tiring,
and she wanted a
private space of her own.
Everyone thinks I am a well-defended
fortress, perfectly organized,
when at most I might be a little
tottering tower that, out of modesty,
tries to cover itself with ferns
and hide its flanks,
already in ruins, to find
a bit of loneliness.
Then they recalled an old pact
between them that was
made in the 1930s,
on one of their stays in Italy.
A trip to Italy on which Dal
promised her a castle,
and with Pbol I believe they
gave solid form to a legend,
a legend of a love story
beyond the usual parameters.
And I think that finding this castle
was like the solidification of desire.
I had still to offer Gala a casket
more solemnly worthy of our love.
I therefore gave her
a mansion raised
on the remains of a twelfth-century
castle at La Bisbal,
the ancient Castle of Pbol,
where she would reign
as absolute sovereign.
Gala was delighted.
She especially liked the garden and
the flowers, above all the roses,
which reminded her of
a garden in Crimea,
where as a young girl she had
spent the summer holidays.
The castle was in a
half-ruined state,
both the interior floors and the roof,
but the faades and
especially the courtyards,
which impressed Dal,
were in good condition.
Magnificent, it's fantastic!
I like it; it is worth buying
for the courtyard alone.
What is more, I have seen something
sublime on the faade:
not only is it cracked, but the form
of a rough edge in the crack
gives the impression that there
has been a cataclysm here,
an earthquake; that one part held firm
while the other broke away and fell.
Therefore, this should not be touched;
it should be left as it is.
Dear Emili, dear friend.
As you will have realized, Pbol is
my obsession, ours, rather.
So far, working together
we have always triumphed.
At Portlligat this little house
has become famous,
and so we have a great responsibility
for a grand new success, you and I.
For the first time, after
so many years,
I saw Gala really obsessed and
very interested in the execution
of the work on the castle.
One day she said to me:
Emili, time is a vital thing;
life is short,
and so I have to be able to
make use of the castle.
Everything must be finished
when we return from Paris
and New York at the
end of next May.
If this results in a higher cost than
envisaged, I do not mind.
I have complete confidence in you.
Both Dal and Gala had great
hopes for their castle.
He already had in mind a whole
series of details for the decoration.
Every day he had new ideas, but he
was faced with opposition from Gala,
who said: 'No, no; the castle is mine
and you must not intervene at all.
The reconstruction of the castle
is a matter for Emili and me,
so do not get involved.'
Dal smiled and replied:
'Yes, yes, Galutxa;
I very much agree on this,'
but he knew very well
that he would be the one who would
really complete all the details
and the decoration, and so it was.
I have here the list of orders
I have received from Gala
so far for her castle:
A roof fifteen metres across
that will represent,
in the Mediterranean sky,
a nocturnal hole from which
surrealist objects fall.
Chairs that do not touch the floor.
Six water-fountain elephants
with stork legs,
which flow into the pool with the 27
ceramic heads of Richard Wagner.
Screens painted with optical illusion
representations of
heating radiators to conceal radiators.
Solid gold taps and shower
heads for the bathroom
that will be painted black because,
according to the rules of alchemy,
treasures must always be hidden.
When we come to the first floor
and see the first room,
we are amazed by the
imaginative deluge
with which a setting
has been created,
which transports us to
the Middle Ages,
yet it is very clear that
we are not in the Middle Ages
but in the world of Salvador Dal.
It's like the intermission of a play.
Before we come in, all the
elements are already there,
Gala's throne,
Gala's powerful presence
and then we come further in to
reach even more hidden spaces,
such as the library, or the bedroom;
but first, the magnificence.
Dal used walls and half-ruined
roofs very intelligently,
creating unsuspected spaces of
strongly contrasted dimensions;
the result is a place with
spaces of great beauty,
such as the old kitchen converted into
a bathroom or the Piano Room.
Dal was interested in the
concept of ruin.
In fact, all the houses that
make up the Dal triangle
were rebuilt on top of
ruined buildings,
and in all three he always
applied the same criterion:
he reconstructed and redecorated
them as if they were sets,
with elements that evoke the
Classical period of the Renaissance,
such as domes,
columns or sculptures.
At Pbol in particular there is a
clear scenographic intention
with links to Classicism and
Yes, for me, this whole
area of the pool
and the garden is the most
scenographic part of the castle,
and as Dal himself said: 'I am
an eminently theatrical artist.'
None other than Visconti
considered that
he had a theatrical talent and
a gift for the stage.
Then Dal came.
I met him in Rome when
he was studying Bramante
and I was looking for an eccentric
set designer, a magician,
but one who really possessed
exactly as he demonstrated
in As You Like It
the gift of creating a stage set.
For a month he immersed
himself in the construction of
his geometric forest of
Raphaelesque trees,
among shepherds, courtiers,
sheep and atomic pomegranates.
Because Dal needed to
step out of the canvas,
he needed to go far
beyond an exhibition room,
and these were arts that allowed him
to express himself in his entirety.
His creativity in the field
of set design
extended to the world of cinema,
especially in the U.S.,
where the director Alfred
Hitchcock chose him
because he felt he was the
artist best equipped to reflect
the realm of the subconscious,
a realm that Dal ended up
transporting into his own spaces.
Dal took a special interest
in the design of the exterior
spaces of the castle.
In Italy, he had been
fascinated by the baroque magic
of the gardens of Bomarzo,
not far from Rome.
Here again a reference to
Classical mythology,
to the labyrinth and to structure
that are both seen and not seen,
this play of visible-invisible which
is always very present in Dal.
Dal was also a great lover
of forced perspectives.
The one that interested him the most
is the one in the Palazzo
Spada in Rome.
What Dal did with one of
the paths in the garden
was to project a perspective like
the one in the Palazzo Spada,
but instead of using columns,
he used the trees,
and in a very skilful way
he had the trees planted
and the vegetation cut in such a way
as to create this false perspective.
In 1974 the pool and the
garden were constructed.
With these interventions the work on
the Castle of Pbol was completed.
The Castle of Pbol was
Dal's gift to Gala, his lady,
to whom he rendered vassalage,
and agreed not to enter the castle
without her written permission.
I am giving you a Gothic castle, Gala.
I accept with one condition,
that you only come to visit me
at the castle by invitation.
I accept, since I accept
in principle
every condition in which
there are conditions.
It is the very principle of
courtly love.
The day that Dal decided to
give this castle to Gala,
saying "please accept
this castle as a gift",
she said "No!
With only one condition:
that you never enter
this castle without me,
and only with a written invitation".
From your wife.
Yes, from Gala, and Dal is every
day more masochist,
and loves this
condition tremendously.
And now he
has received an invitation
and will take you there this afternoon
so you may look for one second
at the face of Gala
opening and closing the door.
Gala became the impregnable castle
that she had never ceased to be.
Intimacy and, above all, familiarities
make all passions diminish.
Rigour of feeling and distances,
as demonstrated by
the neurotic ceremonial of courtly
love, make passion grow.
Gala has always been considered
the muse of Salvador Dal,
an inspiring muse and
a mysterious woman.
Loved by some, hated by others,
she left no one indifferent.
She was a woman of
great intuition,
with an exceptional
artistic sensibility,
who recognized the artistic
and creative genius of
intellectual artists such as
Paul luard,
Max Ernst and Salvador Dal.
She was a woman,
a strong character,
Gala, powerful, very cultured.
And she was in fact of
the few women
to be accepted by the
Surrealist group.
The relationship with the Surrealist
group was always,
I believe, very conflictive,
because the Surrealist group,
however much they strove to
demonstrate the contrary,
was a group of petty bourgeois
captained by Andr Breton
who... who wanted the world
to adapt itself to their needs.
Then along comes Gala,
who does not want the world to
adapt to Breton's needs,
and I think it turned into a conflict.
In 1917 Gala married Paul luard,
who introduced her into the artistic
and literary circles of Paris,
where she was one of the few women
accepted by the Surrealist group.
In 1929 Gala met Salvador
Dal and they fell in love.
luard reluctantly accepted
that his wife was leaving him
for a young artist ten years
younger than she was,
an emotionally unstable artist
with an uncertain future.
Gala saw what Dal was and,
of course,
suddenly she meets this guy,
fascinating, totally crazy,
as he must have been at
that moment, spontaneous.
And she realizes that she has a great
deal to learn, to look at, to shape.
She has, in front of her, a treasure,
she has a gift.
We are always ready to admit that,
suddenly, great artists find
their muses:
well, I believe that Gala was a great
artist who found her muse in Dal
and on that account she
left a successful poet,
a fascinating life of great pomp
with the great poet of Breton,
and went to live, well, almost, with
fishermen, with country people.
The most essential thing
for me is love.
It is the axis of my vitality
and of my brain,
the spring that launches me
forward with elasticity and agility,
with more clarity and precision in
all the movements of my senses,
my impulses, my knowledge.
Gala had begun to explain to me
in minute detail the reasons
for her desire and it suddenly
occurred to me that
she too had her inner world
of desires
and failures and moved
with her own rhythm
between the poles of lucidity
and madness.
Throughout his autobiography
Dal tells us about Gala
in relation to desire and the
discovery of the sexual act.
I kissed her on the mouth,
inside her mouth.
It was the first time I did this.
I had not suspected until then
that one could kiss in this way.
With a single leap all the
Parsifals of my long bridled
and tyrannized erotic
desires rose,
awakened by the shocks
of the flesh.
And then, also in his autobiography,
in an ironic tone,
the most Surrealist Dal associates
food with the loved one,
who has to be devoured in order to
arrive in this way at total love.
Since Malaga I had
become Gala's pupil.
She had revealed to me
the principle of pleasure.
She taught me also the
principle of reality in all things.
She also taught me the
'principle of proportion'
which slumbered in
my intelligence.
She was the Angel of Equilibrium,
the precursor of my Classicism.
Gala became the model and muse
that Dal had been waiting for;
a muse that inspired him
in the same way that
other women inspired Renaissance
painters that Dal so admired.
Galarina, is a clear example of this.
I called it Galarina because
Gala is to me the muse
that La Fornarina was to Raphael.
In short, every good
painter who aspires
to create authentic masterpieces
must first marry my wife Gala.
Gala took it on herself to provide
Dal with the financial stability
he needed in order to dedicate
himself exclusively to art.
It was she who, with great tenacity,
sought out the best dealers,
the most prestigious galleries and
the most refined clients to buy,
sell and exhibit Dal's work.
In fact, Dal never had a dealer
or a gallery to represent him:
Gala did it all.
We see the two of them
with the influential
New York gallerist Julien Levy.
This was part of her role,
the role she took on, and
she performed it very well.
She creates a place,
a comfort zone,
as we would say in
contemporary terms,
which is to be that woman, as when
she writes the letter to her father,
which she reads to her husband,
when she looks after him,
as Russian women do,
and from that parapet she comes
up with lots of different personas
between which she modulated
throughout her life.
I, like all of us Russian women,
personally help my
husband in everything;
I try to lighten his load.
I have to do it, and
in any case I enjoy it.
I often serve as his model,
I also act as secretary
and take charge of everything to
do with the practical part of our life,
I do all that because he,
as you see,
is totally immersed in the
creative world, in his work.
He is not able to deal
with these trifles.
I am not very brilliant either,
but we live like all artists, we work,
and that is the most
important thing,
the possibility of expressing
oneself thanks to a talent.
Gala alone was a witness
to my furies, my despairs,
my fugitive ecstasies and my
relapses into the bitterest pessimism.
She alone knows to what point
painting became for me
at this period a ferocious
reason for living,
while at the same time it became
an even more ferocious
and unsatisfied reason
for loving her, Gala,
for she and she alone
was the reality;
and all that my eyes were
capable of seeing was 'she',
and it was the portrait of her
that would be my work,
my idea, my reality.
In his autobiography, The Secret
Life of Salvador Dal,
the artist explains how at
a crucial moment in his life,
thanks to Gala, his work evolved,
fusing Surrealism with Classicism.
My 'prisons' were the condition
of my metamorphosis,
but without Gala they
threatened to become my coffins,
and again it was Gala who
with her very teeth came
to tear away the
wrappings patiently
woven by the secretion
of my anguish
and within which I was
beginning to decompose.
'Arise and walk!'
I obeyed her...
'You have accomplished nothing yet!
It is not time for you to die!'
My surrealist glory was worth nothing.
I must incorporate
surrealism into tradition.
My imagination must
become classic again.
I had before me a work to
accomplish for which
the rest of my life would
not suffice.
Gala made me believe in this mission.
This time I will send you a
catalogue of the exhibition
and you will see that his
paintings cannot be done
in a quarter of an hour
like most of modernism.
His technique is Classical and
the content, we could say,
is an absolutely new movement,
with a symbolic meaning.
Gala signified all of his
intelligence, all his culture,
all his creativity, all his...
his pragmatic sense of life.
Because she was also... she
could serve as a crutch, right?
But she was absolutely
essential for Dal's life,
his creative and pragmatic life.
Since my Surrealist period,
I have signed my best paintings
'Gala Salvador Dal'.
It is not necessary to be Sartre to
affirm that the name is the person,
but it is necessary to be Dal to
affirm that the superperson,
the superman of Nietzsche
and the Dalinian superwoman
are his castle.
I think that Gala was in
camouflage all the time,
which is to say that from
that point of view
I think of Gala almost as a kind
of postmodern heroine.
We said before that the title
'The Visible Woman' is almost
a contradiction, really,
because in fact Gala
is the invisible woman,
the one we do not
get to know, right?
And that is part of her mystery.
From the beginning I imposed
a very personal norm
that has nothing to do neither with
morals or with ethics or with anything;
I adopted it by and for myself,
and it consists in not agreeing to
any request for an interview,
in not making any statement
for the press.
I want to go down in
history as a legend.
When everything is
over and done with,
when everything that is now
cloudy is clean,
when time has passed,
things will be said about me,
for good or ill,
but for now I do not want
anything to be said.
On June 10, 1982,
Gala died in Portlligat
and was taken to her Castle of
Pbol, where she is buried.
Just a few months before,
in view of the precarious
state of his wife's health,
Dal took it on himself to
prepare a crypt
in the space formerly used
to store the tithes.
Finally we buried Gala in her tomb,
which had been made ready.
A priest from a nearby town
officiated at the ceremony
and Dal, deeply moved,
managed to attend the funeral
for a few moments
before leaving abruptly.
Dal had to leave his wife's funeral.
It was too painful for him.
Downcast, he retired to
the Piano Room.
He did not want anyone near him,
other than his faithful friend Antoni
Pitxot, who was also an artist.
The Death of Hector, represented
in the tapestry in this room,
was quite significant
in those moments of pain.
During the funeral,
Dal and Pitxot sat for over an
hour in front of the tapestry.
According to Pitxot, Dal
was absent, contained,
even expressionless,
staring into space.
To distract and rouse him,
Pitxot talked about the
tapestry in front of them
depicting a scene from the Iliad
of Hector being killed by a spear.
Eventually, Dal looked up
and focused on the scene,
and after a moment's reflection
made the following comment.
This is what has happened to me,
Antoni. The final spear-thrust.
His magnificent house of cards has
collapsed. Gala was dead.
We have to think that Dal
it's what we were saying, isn't it?
For some years he had been
aware that he was getting old,
and on top of that in 1982
he found himself alone.
For the first time in his life
he was alone in the world
because he no longer had Gala,
he had no one to cover
reality for him.
After Gala's death, Dal didn't
want to go back to Portlligat.
He told Antoni Pitxot that
he intended to stay at the
castle to be close to her.
I have been worried,
and thinking all night,
and I have made this decision:
I do not want to go back to
Cadaqus any more.
I want to stay in the castle.
Dali moved into Gala's room.
He slept in her bed and shut
himself up in the castle,
not going outside and
seeing almost no one
except for the staff and Antoni Pitxot.
The days were passing and
Dal was still no better.
Artur, his butler, occasionally
got him to walk in the garden.
On one of these walks, on which
I also accompanied him,
he pointed with his cane to the wall
that was near us and said:
Tell them to raise it half a metre
so that I cannot be seen from
the neighbouring field.
A few days later, the wall
had been built up.
Dal was enclosed in on
himself, absent.
His health was deteriorating
with every day that passed,
he did not want to eat and the nurses
no longer knew what to do with him.
He did not want to see anyone.
Antoni Pitxot came over every day
from Cadaqus to visit him
and tried to encourage him to regain
his enthusiasm for painting,
but he did not find it easy.
Dal was not the same.
From his bed he asked him
to close the curtains so as
not to let the sunlight in.
Close the curtains: that is life!
Many days when I arrived
in the morning
and asked him how he was,
he would answer me,
'I'm dying, I'm dying,'
and things like that.
Then, to change the tone of
sadness and give it a brighter turn,
I would say: 'Why don't you
sing it to me,
like that song that I'm sure
you know that goes:
"With the ay! with the Marabay,
with the ooh! with the Marab, ay!
I am... I am dying...".'
And he immediately
opened his eyes and said:
'San Juan de la Cruz',
which is exactly how the
bolero 'Marab' continues.
Then Dal became more lively
and made the nurses laugh
by singing all kinds of nonsense
and songs of that time.
In those difficult days
in order to stimulate his friend,
Pitxot brought him
a lot of sketchbooks,
so he would have them to hand and
feel prompted to draw or paint.
One day I arrived and I found him
with one of those
sketchbooks in his hands.
I said to myself 'At last!'
and I asked him:
'What are you doing?'
And he tore out a sheet in tremendous
ill humour and threw it on the floor.
When he threw the first
sheet I said nothing,
and he threw six or seven
balls of paper in a row,
as if expressing a feeling
of suppressed rage.
Then I said in a rather
pacifying tone:
'I'm sure this thing you're doing
responds to some feeling you have
but let me tell you
that it's absurd.
Give it a function,
that's what it's for.'
And he threw another
ball of paper on the floor.
So I said: 'That's okay; carry on.
If you like, we'll bring you more
so you can cover the floor
with crumpled paper.'
Then he beckoned to me to
come closer and he snarled:
'Dying is probably like crumpling
up sheets of paper.'
But Antoni Pitxot did not give up.
He knew that the only way to
stimulate Dal was through painting.
I need you to recapture the spark
of the painting, which is my religion.
You know that I don't
believe in anything,
only in good painting.
I believe in Rembrandt's
The Slaughtered Ox,
the brushstrokes of which,
as our teacher Nuez said,
deserve to be kissed.
You remember?
If I can't follow this cult of my
religion, then I will stop coming.
I promise you that tomorrow
I will do something again.
Antoni Pitxot's
persistence paid off,
and by the end of 1982 Dal
was active once more,
working obsessively in the
drawing symbols inspired
by the catastrophe theory
of the French
mathematician Ren Thom
and creating what he called
catastropheiform writing.
When I finally got him
to paint again,
this is what he came up with,
which I found wonderful.
They were in a sense the
signs of his ailments,
but expressed in an
absolutely free, fantastic way.
He filled whole sketchbooks,
drawing in those same
sketchbooks from which
he had torn out the pages
and crumpled them up.
He covered page after page with
these catastropheiform signs.
After a period of emotional
and physical crisis,
Dal was ready to pick up
his brushes again.
He chose a spot in the main
hall of the castle,
next to a window, and
set up his easel there,
adapting it as an improvised studio,
which was to be his last studio.
Dal gives form in these works
to the subjects that obsess him:
immortality, and the nostalgia for
a past that will not return again.
Mine is no longer an imagination at
the service of caprice and dreams,
or of automatism;
now I paint meaningful things taken
directly from my own existence,
from my illness or from my
most present memories.
One of these oil paintings,
We'll Be Arriving Later, around Five,
is a curiously enigmatic
image of a dark interior.
At the back of this work lies
the theme of mortality,
and the fact that it depicts a removal
van takes us back to Dal's youth,
when he heard Andr Breton declare:
'I ask to be conducted to the
cemetery in a removal van.'
This painting, Swallow's Tail,
from 1983,
is the last oil Dal painted,
and he painted it at Pbol.
It is, then, another reference to the
catastrophe theory of Ren Thom,
in which Dal was interested
at the time,
from various angles,
including the scientific.
These oils from Dal's
last period,
marked by his interest in
catastrophe theory,
bear witness to a world
that is ending,
something that is collapsing.
They are a kind of
self-portrait of his final stage.
And in a way these works also
have a premonitory significance.
Salvador Dal suffered
minor burns
when his bedroom at
Pbol caught fire.
A fire which completely destroyed
Dal's room broke out
at dawn yesterday at the
painter's habitual residence.
Dal, who is relatively unharmed,
according to those closest to him,
has minor burns on his right
thigh and right forearm
and was slightly affected
by the smoke.
The doctors recommended that
Dal be moved to a hospital.
The painter Antonio Pitxot
attributed the cause of the
fire to a short circuit.
The nurses had a bell
installed in Dal's room
in case he should needed anything.
That night, in a state of nerves,
Dal pressed the button
so many times that
it caused a short circuit and
started a fire in his bed.
Dal had to be admitted to a clinic
in Barcelona to treat his burns,
but on his way to Barcelona
he asked for the ambulance
to take him to his Museum
in Figueres
so he could see it at night,
probably thinking that
he would never do so again.
So, in the middle of the night,
the nurses, the doctor and
Dal's usual retinue
accompanied the injured painter
as he visited the rooms of
his Museum one by one,
before being taken to the clinic.
He paid special attention
to the boat
that he and Gala often used
when they lived at Portlligat,
which that very day
had been put in place
as part of a central installation
in the courtyard.
Many people will not know the
geographical locations of Figueres
and Pbol, but it took
a special effort
for a person in his
condition to go to Figueres,
which was quite out of the way.
In other words, it says a lot
about what he was thinking,
about what was on his
mind at that moment.
During this convalescent period,
as the day approached when he would
be discharged and leave the clinic,
the dilemma as to his future
residence returns.
He could not go back
to the castle,
because the fire meant that
repairs were needed
and he could not live there.
As Dal was well on the
way to recovery,
the question was put to him.
His answer was immediate
and concise.
I will go to Figueres,
to the Torre Galatea!
The Torre Galatea, formerly
known as the Torre Gorgot,
is an annex to the Dal Museum.
The tower dates from
the 17th century
and preserves the only
visible remnants
of the old mediaeval wall
of Figueres.
Salvador Dal had refurbished it,
connected it to the Theatre-Museum
and given it the name of
Torre Galatea.
In addition, in honour of all the
enigmas surrounding Gala,
he transformed its general
appearance with bright colours,
loaves of bread and
eggs on the faade.
Precisely at that time,
Dal at Pbol was working
on the Torre Galatea.
It was from Pbol that he redesigned
and decorated the Torre Galatea.
What I am saying is that
we can clearly see that
Dal in Pbol was thinking more and
more about his real masterpiece
which is the Dal Theatre-Museum.
Prolonging my
Theatre-Museum of Figueres,
I declare that from now on Torre
Gorgot will be called Torre Galatea.
I raise a monument, unique in the
world, in honour of all enigmas.
The curious thing is that he
returned to his home town, Figueres,
which he had left long before.
In fact, he wanted to come back
here to feel close to the Museum,
the church where
he had been baptized,
and also the place where his father
organized his first painting exhibition.
He wanted to close the circle.
Indeed, he wanted to
close it so much that
he even said that he was to be
buried in the Museum.
I believe that in itself is the total
culmination of his work.
In October 1984, Dal settled
permanently in the Torre Galatea,
in a set of rooms that communicated
internally with the Museum.
I think another of the reasons
why he chose it is also because
there is a huge window that looks
out on the wall of the Museum
and that was an absolutely
direct connection
that he established with his Museum.
In his room, Dal often spent hours
looking at the stone wall opposite.
This reminded him of what
Leonardo da Vinci said about
being able to see images of great
battles in the stains on a wall,
and of Piero di Cosimo
among the tuberculosis patients,
who saw dragons and
other monsters in the sputum
coughed onto the walls.
Dal, who had always known
how to see beyond reality,
found in these visions
a form of escape.
He led a very closed life, and he
chose to see only a few people,
his staff of nurses, his whole team,
and especially Antoni Pitxot.
It was interesting because I was
with Dal for some of this time,
in fact he had asked me to read
Stephen Hawking's
A Brief History of Time to him,
and we would read articles
from the Scientific American,
because he had not
lost his curiosity,
he still had that very profound
vision and that curiosity,
which he never lost for a moment.
Dal's doctors were
visiting him regularly,
and although his condition
was stable,
he was fully aware that he was in a
process of irreversible deterioration.
Pitxot, always close to his friend,
was by his side, supporting him.
They were very hard
moments for Dal
because he was someone
who had created that mask,
his persona as such,
which was one of his works,
and he was perfectly
aware of his decline,
precisely because
he retained that lucidity,
that magnificent mind
he always had,
while his physical condition
was failing to keep up with it.
Every night, before going to bed,
Dal would always ask Antoni
Pitxot the same thing:
He wanted to hear Wagner's
Tristan and Isolde.
In the opera there is
an apotheosis
in which Tristan descends from
the sky and trumpets sound:
this moment represents
the arrival of Tristan,
and it was only then that Pitxot
leaves and Dal would fall asleep.
Dal was always interested
in science,
in the possibilities it offered him,
in optical phenomena, and he was
always interested in new languages.
That was the way that Dal found
to go on explaining the inexplicable,
by way of science,
when it seemed to him that
other approaches had
been exhausted.
And a symposium on determinism
and freedom was organized in his
Museum, entitled 'Process of Chance'.
Mathematics has nothing
to say to reality.
That is your point of view,
it's not mine.
It was the confluence of
the search for a faith
he could not find and the
support that science gave him
in seeking to explain the
processes of chance, of chaos,
and in fact, quantum
mechanics and physics
helped him look for answers that,
in the last analysis,
he did not find.
What Dal was seeking
in science were
new foundations from which
to approach the immortality
he so desired and
overcome death,
always so present in his life
and his work.
I enjoy tremendously every single
moment of my life because death,
which is at all times very
close, is watching me.
And death would like to catch me,
and every five minutes that
death does not catch me
I enjoy tremendously.
Like a little Vichy water,
as you said;
a little tea or something.
Everything becomes a
tremendous pleasure,
because death has surrendered,
and because death is so close
it is possible to make every
single 'piece' of my life erotic.
I have lived with death since
I have known I breathe,
and it kills me with a cold
voluptuousness only comparable
to my lucid passion to
outlive it every minute,
every infinitesimal second of
my consciousness of being.
This constant, stubborn, fierce,
terrible tension constitutes the
whole story of my quest.
There comes a time, especially
in the last period, I think,
when what concerns him most,
more than physical death,
is the death of the intellect,
the non-transcendence.
Step by step, little by little
and day by day
it was clear that one more page of his
transit towards the end was turning.
And Dal saw it and accepted it.
Dal, the eternal observer,
was the spectator of his own end.
In fact, the Dal Theatre-Museum
goes much further:
it is also the consolidation
of his desire
for transcendence and immortality.
In spite of Dal's health problems,
his last stage had moments
of great richness.
He liked to look back, to remember,
to go over his youth.
He remembered Garca Lorca, Buuel,
the tangos of Irusta and Demare.
In June 1932, there
suddenly came to my mind
without any close or
conscious association,
which would have provided an
immediate explanation,
the image of The Angelus of Millet.
This image was composed of a very
clear visual representation
and in colour.
It was nearly instantaneous and
was not followed by other images.
It appeared to me
absolutely modified and
charged with such latent
intentionality that
The Angelus of Millet suddenly
became for me the most troubling,
the most enigmatic pictorial work,
the densest and richest in
unconscious thoughts
that I had ever seen.
This painting produced in him a
dark anguish so acute that
the memory of these two immobile
silhouettes pursued him for years
with the constant disquiet produced by
their continual ambiguous presence.
There is another
fundamental theme in Dal,
which is his interpretation of
Millet's The Angelus,
and is an interpretation that is made
through the paranoiac-critical method,
a method that was his contribution
to the Surrealist movement
and made him stand out
over the others.
Because he engaged with paranoid
thinking and understood that
reality is never as we see it:
the more deeply we look at reality,
the more interpretations we can find.
While we may see this painting as a
conventional scene of two peasants
reciting the midday Angelus
prayer, Dal, in contrast,
saw two parents mourning
the death of their son,
because he did not interpret
the carrycot as a carrycot
but rather as the
coffin of a child.
Surely, in fact, it is a direct reference
to both the premonition of death,
which is what the icon of Millet's
The Angelus ended up being for Dal,
and to the obsession
with his brother's death
that stayed with him all his life.
And it was in the Torre Galatea,
right next to the church
where he was baptized
and opposite the wall of the building
in which he had his first exhibition,
that Dal spent the
last days of his life
before finally being extinguished
on January 23, 1989.
Tell me this: what do you think will
happen to you when you die?
I do not believe in my own death.
You will not die?
It is not that I don't believe
in general death,
but I absolutely do not
believe in the death of Dal.
If I were to believe in my death,
I should be very afraid;
that is almost impossible.
-You fear death?
Death is beautiful,
but you fear death?
Exactly, because Dal is
contradictory and paradoxical.
In fact, I believe that we have
had to reach the 21st century
to appreciate all of the
capacity for rebellion
and that appeal to individual
freedom that Dal makes.
In effect, Dal invites us to be
transgressors through provocation:
there is a constant provocation
and we feel provoked
because we are being
provoked by a thinking machine.
To enter into his mind is to
enter fully into his time
and thus to enter into the whole
world of the twentieth century.
Heaven is what I have been
seeking all along
and through the density of confused
and demoniac flesh of my life, heaven!
Alas for him who has
not yet understood that!
When with my crutch
I stirred into the putrefied
and worm-eaten mass of
my dead hedgehog,
it was heaven I was seeking.
When, from the summit of
the Mol de la Torre
I looked far down into
the black emptiness,
I was also and still seeking heaven.
Gala, you are reality!
And what is heaven?
Where is it to be found?
'Heaven is to be found
neither above nor below,
neither to the right nor to the left,
heaven is to be found exactly
in the centre of the bosom
of the man who has faith!'
At this moment I do not
yet have faith,
and I fear I shall die
without heaven.
My triumph will lie in the fact that
I was able to overwhelm my period
and at the same time
achieve immortality.
My triumph is the gold that accounts
for my present-day success
and nurtures my eternal genius.