“The universe is converging, not widening. It’s shriveling up, it’s concentrated on one point in space, and for me that point is the railroad station in Perpignan”. Salvador Dalí
Actually, we are not stopping halfway between France and Spain, in the place that Dalì said was the “centre of the universe”, perfectly located at the very heart of the Perpignan railway station; but in Southern Italy, in the city nominated the European Capital of Culture for 2019, and precisely at the Matera Central Fal railway station.
The public space in front of the station, illuminated by the iridescent lights of the large canopy designed by the architect Stefano Boeri, is dominated by the 3 metre high bronze sculpture “Horse Saddled with Time”, conceived by Salvador Dalí in 1980.
The presence of this work has transformed this place of passage and brief stops, enriching its functional and social value by adding architectural and artistic importance to it.
The visitor is invited to stop and admire “Dalí as a sculptor” through a work that leads one to think about time, one’s own identity, the destination of one’s journey, where the station is, indeed, the starting point and the means of this path.
A space we cannot do without, as Dalí said in his “Diary of a Genius” with regard to the Perpignan railway station, which the Catalan artist held as the place where in absolute terms “the brain and soul of Dalí met the most sublime ideas”.
The “Horse Saddled with Time” was installed in the square in front of the Matera Central Fal railway station on June 10th, with the aim of enhancing the role of the city of Matera as the European Capital of Culture for 2019, together with the exhibition dedicated to Salvador Dalí “The Persistence of Opposites” in the historic ‘Sassi’ town.
The horse, one of Dalí’s favourite images, is saddled with Dalinian time. The famous melted watch is used in place of a normal saddle and the animal figure becomes the representation of life weighed down and harnessed by time. The sculpture symbolizes the omnipresence of “time” and the burden it brings to all of our actions.
Dalí believed that time and space could not be separated, and, in this sculpture, the artist portrays time in its disordered, fluent, fleeting and transient dimension, adding a soft watch having the same shape as the one depicted in the famous painting "The Persistence of Memory" (1931).
The theme of the passing of time deeply troubled Dalí, who stated: "The mechanical object was to become my worst enemy, and as for watches, they would have to be soft, or not be at all”.
In front of the Matera Central Fal railway station, time controls passers-by, appearing in the guise of a horse’s saddle.
What better place could have hosted this sculpture, which illustrates in the three dimensions the Dalinian concept of time, offering every passer-by the chance to observe a new, almost surreal, aspect of the façade of Matera’s railway station?