Dylan Jones: ' As a teenager, I adored Dali and thought the moustachioed Surrealist dude was the coolest painter of all'

Related Topics

I thought I was all done with Dali. As a young teenager, I adored him, and, like many impressionable boys of my age, thought the moustachioed Surrealist dude was the coolest painter of them all. You could keep your Picassos, your Matisses and your Rembrandts; it was Dali all the way with me, baby.

At that age, when corny juxtaposition seems so sophisticated, Salvador Dali tends to be as much of a student pinboard mainstay as Che Guevara or Bob Marley. "You have to systematically create confusion, it sets creativity free," he once said. "Everything that is contradictory creates life."

But then you grow up and never want to have anything to do with him again. Well, not until you see one of his clouds. A few weeks ago I was driving through the hills around Banyuls-sur-Mer, one of the beautiful French coastal towns near Perpignan, and the sky was suddenly full of long, pale grey clouds, a vista that looked as though it had been painted by the famous Spanish Surrealist. Those clouds in The Persistence of Memory? Yup, I saw those. The clouds in Landscape with Butterflies, in Reminescence Archeologique de l'Angelus de Millet, yes I saw those too; huge explosions of white across the sky.

Dali used to live nearby – just down the road, in fact, in Figueres – and, seeing these clouds, you can see why he chose the place. The Catalan sky is a beautiful, big, blank, blue canvas, while the clouds are pillowy, and often oblong, like gunmetal baguettes. Dali loved his wide, expanding landscapes, the sort that were copied endlessly by record sleeve designers in the late Sixties and early Seventies, the sort that begged to be filled with cod Surrealist imagery (clocks, animals, naked women, etc). In a way you could say that Dali painted skies as often as Hockney painted swimming pools: often.

And seeing them in "true life", as my daughters used to say when they were young, you begin to understand why Dali used these vast panoramas as the backdrop to so many of his paintings: they were simply extraordinary, and they were right there in front of him.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Special Needs Teaching Assistant

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Educational Needs Teach...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Daily catch-up: unbuilt buildings, the new Establishment and polling on Europe

John Rentoul
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London