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| 21 January 2019 | Reply

Metro City, Northbridge – Saturday, 19 January, 2019
By Shane Pinnegar

Dali Land is billed as an opportunity to “enter the mind of Salvador Dali, in an immersive 4 level exhibition dedicated to the surrealist master. Featuring over 200 works including drawings, sculptures, film, graphics, photography, and ‘Unconscious Contemporary’ a secondary exhibition featuring contemporary surrealist and esoteric artists alongside historical work by Max Ernst, Jean Cocteau and Man Ray.”

Obviously Dali Land is aiming high, but in reality it falls a bit short of its lofty ambitions.

Don’t get us wrong – any opportunity to see original artworks by the master of surrealism is welcome, and his sketches of Don Quixote, paintings from his Divine Comedy series, brass casts of a couple of his famous melting clocks and more are breathtakingly wonderful.

Throw in a side exhibition featuring the work of Man Ray, René Magritte, Max Ernst and Jean Cocteau, and there is plenty for art enthusiasts to get excited about.

The venue though, not so much. Presented as a partially guided tour, great pains are taken to explain that any space can be a gallery, and that nightclub and concert venue Metro City has undergone a “transformation” to accommodate the exhibition, but it still looks exactly like what it is – a dingy nightclub with an art installation in a couple of rooms and a few corridors. The guided tour also felt restrictive, as if compensating for the physical shortcomings of the exhibition – though we were invited to return and see everything at our own pace in the second half of our allocated hour. Still, the dissatisfied muttering amongst several of our group who left early was telling.

The secondary exhibition of Dali’s contemporaries is woefully underlit, prompting several present to use their phone torch apps in order to properly see the artworks and the information explaining their context and creators.

As mentioned above, the opportunity to see any of Dali’s work is a welcome one that should not be missed, but something felt missing at Dali Land. Perhaps it was the lack of most of Dali’s better known works (could some more prints have been utilised? Better use of some of the incredible physical art featuring at the bucket-list destination Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain? Certainly the vast majority of the 200+ artworks promised were not from Dali himself), or the lack of a story, a progression, which better explained surrealism itself or Dali’s own journey as we progressed through several local artworks (curator Robert Buratti’s Dali-inspired canvasses are magnificent), the side exhibition and ultimately into the room featuring Dali’s own work.

Not so much an opportunity to enter the mind of Dali, then, so much as a chance to merely scratch the surface of his canon of work, Dali Land is worth a visit, but it could have been so much more.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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