Gaudi, Dali and me

May 11, 2023

   I can’t explain a lot about the things I believe, and trying to explain these two artists is no exception. On the one hand I casually dismissed the one at first encounter; the other I’ve unquestionably embraced since my first experience of him as a teenager. To me anyway, Antoni Gaudi and Salvador Dali both express a magical playfulness, particularly with concepts of time and space, in their art. In my teens I was captivated by the sense that Dali portrayed the dreams – or nightmares – I was having at the time. My first view of Gaudi – his still unfinished Sagrada Familia – struck me and still does as a work of total self-indulgence and ostentation. In other words, I have no idea what I’m talking about here, and should confine myself to writing what I do know something about: buying train tickets.

Dali would say: if life gives you eggs, make lemonade

   Or at least I used to think I knew how to buy a train ticket. 

   The story begins with my online purchase of a pair of tickets to Dali’s hometown of Figueres, an hour north of Barcelona. I was keen to show Carol the slightly wacky town that housed the Dali museum that I first visited on my own in 2018. All along the long walk from the Figueres train station to the Dali museum in town, I extolled the virtues of my childhood artist hero in ways Carol would find contradictory, when I critically applied those same insights to Gaudi’s creation. It revealed a narrow prejudice of mine toward all religious expressions of art that I nevertheless plan to take with me to my grave (and Judgment Day, if there is one).

Is it a melting clock or is it just bending time?

“The work of those two transcends time and place; mine still struggles to be in the right place at the right time.”

   But the train is the story here and not my woefully incompetent art criticism. We were through the museum in brisk Reid-time (Even Dali doesn’t slow me down), and we returned to the train station in hopes of catching an earlier one back to Barcelona than I had booked. Just like our reservations for the steak house, we were quite early for our return train. Not one day early like the dinner reservations, but a full week early, as the ticket agent pointed out to me. Plus, since the tickets were bought through an online third party, the railway could offer nothing in terms of an exchange or credit. The net effect of eating the original return tickets and buying two more added a crisp 50 euro note to the expenses of the day. It also had the effect of wiping Carol’s faux pas with the dinner reservations completely off the books, especially since that one cost us nothing extra. (I’d have more to contribute to train ticket snafus as the trip progressed in the weeks ahead.)

 Rainfall with life boat?

   It turns out I have more in common with Gaudi and Dali than might meet the eye. We all three play with concepts of time and space. It’s just that Gaudi and Dali do it with concrete and paint, and I do it with train tickets. The work of those two transcends time and place; mine still struggles to be in the right place at the right time.

  1. Bonnie says:

    I once went on the self-designed Dali tour to:
    *Cadaques and Port Lligat to see his home,
    *to Figueres to see the museum and stay in the hotel where he lunched daily. The waiter was so excited that I knew that, that he showed me the room where Dali lunched.
    *to the Castle of Pubol that Dali gave and dedicated to Gala, which is filled with artwork, too.
    But my favorite Dali museum is in Tampa, FL.

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