Jul 8, 2013

Santiago El Grande

One moment I was walking into a small unassuming art gallery, the next I was startled and surprised to be confronted by an awe inspiring, artistic, emotional volcano.

I was on a working assignment in the provincial capital city of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and had a couple of hours to myself. I decided to go for a walk and immediately found the Beaverbrook Art Gallery next door to the hotel. It is a quiet, low-lying structure, in no way artistic in it's design. But, to my mind, any art gallery is worth a look. I opened the door and wandered in.
Salvador Dali - Santiago El Grande of 1957.

There it stood before me. Seducing me. This magical gigantic oil painting filling a large wall. But this is no ordinary painting. This is a true masterpiece:  Santiago El Grande by Salvador Dali.

Never before had I been stopped in my track so dramatically by such an overwhelming feeling given to me by a painting. An almost 15ft tall canvas.

In the painting, Dali pays tribute to Santiago El Grande or Saint James the Great, the Patron Saint of Spain. James is riding a gigantic life-like, white horse rearing up out of the sea surrounded by a huge dome-like structure. Hanging over James is Jesus Christ on the cross ascending into heaven, while angels are depicted flying around the horse's head. Gala, Dali's wife, stands as a cloaked figure in the bottom right corner. The vivid colours of blues, whites and warm skin tones are dramatic.

Salvador Dali was a classical artist with a major twist of surrealism. He was quirky and funny. He was astonishingly finely detailed and wild at heart. Each of his creations is totally original and it is a wonderful fascination for those who suddenly discover another Dali to explore. Dali is just as new and vibrant today as he has ever been. He fills the void of a population yearning for something new, something more. And he fills it with each fresh glance at his work. This painting fulfills all that Dali was and is: A master of fine art.

It was originally painted for the Spanish Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World Fair. Then, it was offered to the Church of Spain, only to be refused. Dali then sold it to his friends, Canadian financier Sir James Dunn and Lady Dunn, who eventually donated it to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

This is not one of the most well known of Salvador Dali's creations, but of all the Dali compositions that I have seen, and I am a Dali fan, this is the most magnificent and awe inspiring. And, it has been said, "This could be one of the best works of art ever painted."

Do your artistic passions a favour and visit 
Santiago El Grande at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.