Galarina, Salvador Dali. 1944-45
The world’s concept of beauty has become such a repellent to me now. As it turns out, it really weighs nothing in the grand scheme of things. Your fate supposedly lies in the eye of the beholder – a daring concept that allows strangers to have power over you and your self- esteem. It shouldn’t be so damned easy for us to put so much trust into people who barely know us. The cynic in me finds that even the simple observation of physical beauty has become a cop out. Verbalizing approval of someone’s looks has become a way of saying “I accept you,” and “I approve of you simply because I like the way you look.” And I don’t know about you, but once I’ve gained this level of approval without even trying, it makes me lazy. You don’t need to know anything else about me. You’ve given me the thumbs up without peeling back the layers and making sure I’m not completely spoiled and ugly underneath.
The magnificent thing about Dali’s art, in my opinion, is that he was able to peel back gritty layers of ugly to reveal the overall beauty of whatever scenario or mood he was trying to capture. Along those lines, it seems to me his life was a true imitation of that particular art. As many of you may gasp to know, I find Dali’s relationship with his muse and wife Gala to be THE most fascinating mystery about a most fascinatingly mysterious man. On paper, this woman reads as an opportunistic older woman who abandoned her children to leach off the dreams of successful artists. She’s the equivalent of today’s gold digger with the addition of 10 years on her and not so much in the looks department. However, I replay in my mind how it could’ve gone down upon Salvador’s first sight of her. How, like a painting, he was most likely drawn to the concept of her– the outline of her– and the desire to expose her layers became a fascination.
There she was. It didn’t matter all the negative things he had heard about her. It mattered less the age difference between them, and even less that she stood there married and on the arm of Paul Eluard. There she was. And maybe it wasn’t the brilliance of her smile, the glint in her eyes, or her demure manner as she spoke to guests at the party with ease and confidence. It didn’t seem to be the thrill of the chase that moved him to declare that she was to be his wife. His artist’s rendering of her alone causes me to believe that it was perhaps the way her laugh lines framed her small mouth whenever she chose to speak. Or maybe he was entranced by the wideness of her forehead, the soft glow of red in her high cheekbones, or the deep set of her eyes. There she was… An obsession formed. What he saw before his eyes was something real, a beauty and likeness designed almost specifically for his Dalinian eyes. Dalinian eyes that fought through the fog of the opinion of others and through the obstacle of another man that claimed her attention to see this majestic being before him – there she was.
Buuuuut, that is all speculation on my part. I say all that to say that anyone can recognize the near perfect symmetry in a face and declare it optimum beauty. It takes a trained eye to look beyond a face and see the deep sadness in another’s eyes, to admire the furrow of a brow, the ruggedness of once delicate hands, or the quick flash of innocence in an expression. Flowers are pretty, and sunsets are magnificent, sunrises—even better! But what lies beyond…? To me, beauty should be seen as the entire journey of where an object originates to where it is now. The story should be whole and complete before anyone dare pass judgment on how they feel about the look of things. The heartbreaker that falls in love, the liar who tells the truth, the ignorant that opens the mind, the uninspired who finds a muse…the beauty is what is recognized after, and never before.