★Neil Spiller: Ornamental Savagery

☆Lecture 11!

  • Date: 21/03/12
  • Lecturer: Neil Spiller
  • Topic: Ornamental Savagery

Neil Spiller returned to give us the final lecture which I very much looked forward to. Though this time it was rather different to the previous lecture he gave due to instead of Neil talking about his own work he focused more on Surrealism and Salvador Dali.

I’ll begin by stating that I believe Dali was a great man. Sure I am not the only one, many people admire him for being a skilled draftsman, his eccentric style and bizarre artwork. Yet, I think he deserves little more than just a title of ‘one of the greatest Surrealist artists of all time’. It is though seeing a painting done by an artist, you’ll consider it as beautiful and admire how intricate it is though how much do we know about it?  Of course all artists paint with a reason but sometimes it makes me curious how people translate these paintings into meanings. Was this really what the artist wanted to say at that time? This is why I am interested in Surrealism, it is rather mysterious as you’ll always be left wondering about something.

I’ll admit that during times Neil Spiller speaks I would occasionally go blank due to not being able to fully process his words. It is almost like another language, the unusual language of Surrealism that only the artist, he fully understands. It provokes curiosity within me.

Although I don’t necessarily believe that we need to know an artist properly in order to understand his work but it would certainly be more meaningful to ‘see through the painting’. I think through all lectures I have always been deep in thought afterwards, trying to process the ideas but this lecture has provoked a little more thoughts compared to others. Maybe I am not making sense but still keen on sharing my thoughts.

Looking at Dali’s last painting ‘The Swallow’s Tail’ seemed a more simplier painting compared to all his previous artwork. It is still unusual looking and I cannot really make coherence out of the signs, for some reason it reminds me of Dali’s moustauche. I think that this painting seems significant out of the lot, maybe because it is the last in the series.

Dali’s style is even reflected in his lifestyle, an example would be his home in Portlligat, 45 minutes drive from Figueures. He aquired a row of fishermen’s cottages that eventually became a labyrinthine home every bit as surreal as his art. I was reminded of my belief that looking in someone’s bedroom, a personal space, you would be able to somewhat presume the person they are. Whether associated with the colour of the walls or how people place things, you would maybe describe them as a ‘neat’ person etc. From looking into my bedroom you can clearly see my personality from the giant bear I have in the corner or my big collection of books. It is no different when looking at Dali’s home, the way he intended it to be. He had a motive and reason for each detail intent to portray his persona as he said ‘I made myself on these shores, created my persona here, discovered my love, painted my oeuvre, built my house. I am inseparable from this sky, this sea, these rocks.’

As mentioned, Dali has great purpose for everything he believed “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”

My main point is that it is admirable to see someone so dedicated and passionate about something which inspires me to work harder in order to achieve. Of course Surrealism will forever remain a mystery to me. The concept is difficult for me to grasp, sometimes I think I understand and other times I cannot comprehend, maybe this is why I find it interesting.

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