Salvador Dalí’s sculptures were on display this summer at the Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg.
For the first time ever the Dalí Universe introduced to the Russian public a number of selected works from its sculpture Collection, which consisted of sixteen bronze sculptures, four of which were monumental-sized, and twelve museum-sized.
This spectacular exhibition ran from May 24th, and its grand opening was made even more special by the presence of Mr. Beniamino Levi, Chairman of the Dalí Universe, and Mr. Alex Doppia, Managing Director of Dalí Paris, which houses a permanent exhibition of Salvador Dalí’s works.
Both took part in the events promoted by Erarta on the day of the Vernissage. Their presentation of the Dalí Universe Collection also included interesting anecdotes on the fruitful collaboration existing between Levi and Dalí, which covered aspects related to form and detail, and ultimately led to how these works were actually created by the artist.
The interviews were shown on the “Good Morning” television programme and broadcast by various local cultural TV channels, one of which hosts the Contemporary Art programme АРТ ЛИКБЕЗ (Art Likbex) conducted by Vyacheslav Kornev.
The great success of this temporary exhibition was undoubtedly due to its wide tv coverage by and the press, however, a fundamental role was also played by the unique and special atmosphere set up by Erarta for the presentation of the works within the museum’s premises.
Erarta Museum dedicated its largest exhibition hall to Dali, located on the first floor, creating a “Paradise Garden”. The lighting design consisted of a high number of light points placed in such a way as to generate contrasts – direct or blurred, depending on the overall effect sought - between reflected lights and shadows cast.
They appeared on the floor and on the walls; their shapes recalled those painted by Dalí in his works and their presence-absence originated a truly spectacular and…surreal! scene within the exhibition space.
Having seen this set created by Erarta for the exhibition, Mr. Alex Doppia commented that he was surprised and enthusiastic about it, especially for the “ingenious idea of transforming an enclosed exhibition space into an “En plein air space”.
A true metamorphosis of the environment - which Dalí would have undoubtedly appreciated – whereby the visitor could admire the sculptures while having the impression of being somewhere else, i.e. outdoors. This idea was implemented using “green walls” and birdsong sound applications, to allow for a wider and deeper understanding of the artistic work of the Catalan genius.
The four monumental-sized sculptures, “Nobility of Time”, “Space Venus”, “Saint George and the Dragon” and the “Unicorn”, with their 3-5 metre height, animated this fantastic and unusual scene set in the “Paradise Garden”, which could be reached by taking a “moustached” elevator.
In conjunction to the exhibition of Dalí’s sculptural works, Erarta Museum organized a number of events involving different categories of users, which were also aimed at smaller artists.
The #erarta_kids project saw young artists at work with educational programmes taking place in the museum’s summer garden, amongst which “Art through the eyes of children” and a small competition where “little hearts” were used as scores.
Dalí’s moustache did not only embellish the elevator’s glass window, but became the theme for a very cute competition, for adults and children, entitled “Dalí’s Moustache”, whereby participants were able to express themselves whilst using all their creativity, and be photographed with the most extravagant moustache.
Moreover, during the last week of August the exhibition “expanded” throughout the whole of Saint Petersburg, by means of a bizarre “Sculpture hunt”.
Lastly, the food theme could not be omitted from the rich programme of events organized by the Erarta Museum around the “Salvador Dalí: Sculptures” exhibition. For the occasion, the chef of the museum’s restaurant created a Dalí inspired menu, based on the famous recipes to be found in the “Les Dîners de Gala” (Gala Dinner) cookbook, which he wrote in1973.
In a truly “comprehensive” immersion, the museum’s visitors were able to dine at the restaurant, and savour the different dishes inspired by Dalí.
In “Salvador Dalí’s red salad”, roast beef, combined with beets, peppers, cabbage and cucumber, appeared as a bas-relief on a round plate, “signed” with balsamic vinegar.
“Gala’s Dessert” was granted a special touch by the head chef; a raspberry cake, with the addition of creamy mango, appeared on the restaurant’s tables in the guise of a turquoise-coloured disc with a “plasticky” and melted effect, just like a soft watch!
The widespread social media sharing of photographs taken during the exhibition and connected events, enabled it to “expand” and take “Salvador Dalí: Sculptures” practically everywhere, overcoming the limitations of space and time.
Over 3,800 posts are under the #erarta_dali hashtag on the instagram platform alone, and it is really bizarre to see that, 20 days following the end of the exhibition, further photos which visitors took during the visit are still being published. “Salvador Dalí: Sculptures” continues to be present on the internet, and we firmly believe this aspect would have pleased Dalí, who always followed his desire to “expand” his personality day after day, up to the point of stating that: “As each day goes by I want to turn a little bit more into Dalí”.
This genuine “expansion” of the exhibition towards the outside world made it possible for many enthusiasts of the art and works of the greatest Surrealist artist to visit the show by means of “distance” participation.
In a somewhat (almost surreal) way, some of us may feel that we actually visited the “Salvador Dalí: Sculptures” exhibition, without ever having being to St. Petersburg in real life. Perhaps, for some of us, this visit will become part of our “false memories”, just like those Dalí used to love so much.
Coming soon ... another wonderful Exhibition of works from the Dalí Universe Collection awaits you... .this time in Matera, Italy! Are you ready?