It is beyond me to explain. I can only describe. I might be standing before my easel or, as now, walking from the High Street Station in Kensington to a restaurant to meet Daphne.
Suddenly, I am somewhere else. My senses might tell me I am floating as in a dream or it could be as real as catching the bus.
As I was passing Kensington Gardens, I suddenly stopped. How odd! Why should I be thinking of pairs of opposites? Hot/cold, light/dark and so on. Suddenly that was all I could see before me.
To my left, I saw an advertisement for an oculist company high up on a billboard.
At first, the eyes looked completely normal but then those eyes looked like the symbol for the Yin Yang. Something was coming I thought as they slipped downward and askew.
The clock above the shop window began to drip and droop at its edges like an ice cream cone in the summer sun. It definitely took on the appearance of a Dali clock.
As soon as I squinted, I was standing before the New Burlington Gallery. I was certain I was on another CyberSpace adventure!
I did not really enter the building. Better to say that, as in a dream, I was just suddenly “there” inside.
My vision was blurred and the scene was tinged a yellowy green. Where was I? When was I? These seem like strange questions on your first CyberSpace adventure, but you will get the hang of this.
A number of Dali’s exquisitely delicate lithographs hung on the walls. I doubted that he had actually created them by 1936, but in CyberSpace those kind of questions lose their meaning. Time becomes an ambiguos concept. Such soft colours contrasted with his harder-edged paintings depicting strange worlds. I marvelled at how he was able to convince me of the existence of a fourth dimension beyond or behind this phenomenal world.
It didn’t matter if it were a clock draped over a landscape of another world or such nearly abstract lithographs which looked like a gorgeous floral display. The message was the same–there is another place. Since I had just been transplanted from Kensington in 2015 to 1936 in the New Burlington Galleries, I certainly agree that there are many other dimensions. As a painter myself, I am very interested in an endless exploration of as many as there may be.
I walked on. A familiar looking man grabbed my arm.
“Sir!” he crooned in an Irish lilt. “Would you care for a wee bit of boiled string in a cup?”
“What?” I asked turning quickly away.
When he held a cup under my nose and asked, “Weak or strong?” I recognized him. Good grief! It was the great poet Dylan Thomas—in his cups of course. Shaking my head I backed away. Mr. Thomas shrugged and returned to his glass.
There was much more to come.
To my left appeared one of the strangest visions I have ever seen—a man in a diving suit surrounded by friends.
The people near me began to whisper. “There he is. It’s Dali up to his crazy tricks!”
Someone chimed in—“He’s giving a speech—Fantomes paranoiaques authentiques [loosely translated—authentic, paranoid, phantoms].
Dread is far too strong a word to describe what then crept into me. Perhaps—unease.
I found myself seated in a sold out auditorium. Dali appeared on stage in the diving suit. He gave several deep bows and, after a lengthy applause, a breathless silence came over the crowd and they awaited the great artist’s words.
Something was not right! His movements seemed just a little too hurried when he took a few steps to the left and then the right. He grasped his head with his hands. His movements became more rapid and exaggerated. His arms and legs flailed about. Within moments, his whole body was twitching, dancing and swirling about the stage. Thinking this was only a stunt by the grand prankster, Dali, the entire audience roared with laughter.
I sprang to my feet. With the words “St. Vitus Dance,” echoing in my brain, I ran to the back of the stage.
“Good God!” I thought. “The stage crew must have left a hammer somewhere!”
I glanced back at Dali. Now he was writhing on the floor.
Thank God! A spanner lay behind some boxes. I grabbed it and ran back to the artist who had sunk to the floor. His legs gave only a few feeble twitches.
I smashed open the helmet and the great artist lay gasping at my feet.
It took quite a few people to free Dali from his diving suit and sit him upright. A young man helped me get Dali to the dressing room.
It was incredible! Everyone had thought Dali was up to his usual ridiculous tricks. His frantic dance was only for dramatic delivery of his speech. But, in fact, he found that somehow his air supply had been cut off. A near tragedy had been averted.
Back stage with Dali, it was as if he couldn’t see me and—given the oddities of time travel, perhaps he couldn’t. He did, however, thank the gentleman for saving his life. Although I did not catch his name—he was a poet who had the perceptiveness of a great one to see what was really happening.
As I left, I heard Dali say, “I just wanted to show that I was ‘plunging deeply’ into the human mind.”
Shaking my head, I walked slowly from the building. Of course, the Surrealists were greatly influenced by Drs. Jung and Freud who revolutionized and deepened humankind’s understanding of itself. And Dali was hailed as the number one Surrealist of his day. Naturally he would want to bring home his point about the realms of the unconscious from which his very best art came; however—not at the expense of almost doing himself in with his crazy stunts. No one else but he would think of such a scheme. I stopped up and laughed – no one except my friend Rinaldo!
But no—you may not yet have met Rinaldo, the conceptual artist in The Trilogy of Remembrance. He and I are so far apart on any and all conceivable artistic, philosophic and personal matters. He delights in being my nemesis and stages all sorts of tricks to drive me mad.
I had a sobering thought. Could it be that Rinaldo might possess an artistic genius similar to Dali’s? No matter what I cannot free myself of him.
The real question is why I always forgive him? Perhaps he can laugh when I might cry. With own and each other’s eyes, we can see what the other cannot. Together, at times, we make a whole.
Take a moment to watch this video which contain scenes from The Drawing Lesson, the first in The Trilogy of Remembrance. In it, you will get a sense of the complexity of our relationship.
NOTE: You may ask–is this story entirely invented? Did Dali ever lie gasping on the stage as he struggled to extricate himself from his diving suit? Did Alexander rescue the famous artist? Did Dylan Thomas appear with his cups of boiled string? Only the CyberSpace adventurer knows. Ready for another trip? Enter the contest here
Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice; and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the newly released and final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing. Presently, The Drawing Lesson is a Wattpad Featured novel which you can read in its entirety right here Wattpad.com