Leda Atomica (24 x 18″- oil on canvas), is a painting by Salvador Dali (1904-1989) who was the top Surrealists of this time. Surrealism explored the subconscious, the dream world, and irrational elements of the psyche in the firm belief that the discoveries to be made from such exploration would be of greater fundamental importance to the human condition than any other form of social analysis.
Surrealists like Salvador Dali was very fascinated by the ephemeral state of the mind between sleep and consciousness, dream and reality, sanity and insanity, as one in which the mind functioned purely, unfettered by the constraints of logic and social behavior. (#1 – Surrealism) Salvador Dali was born in May 11 of 1904 in Figures Spain, and in 1921 he entered the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid where he made friends with Federico Garcia Lorca, Luis Bunuel, and Eugenio Montes.
In June of 1923 Dali was suspended from the Academy for having indicated the students to rebel against the authorities of the school but was let back in October of 1925, and a year later Dali was permanently expelled. Then in 1924 he was imprisoned in Figures and Gerona for political reasons. The influence of metaphysical paintings and contact with Miro, caused Dali to join the Surrealists in 1929. (#8 – Biographical Outline) Dali held numerous one-man shows during his career and did many art forms from paintings to sculpture and even movies.
He directed and was a part of many films including the first surrealist film “Un Chiea A Dalou A Andalusian Dog”, with the director Luis Bunuel. In 1945 he designed the memorable surrealistic dream sequence for Hitchcock’s Spellbound, and filmed Don Juan Tenorio, in 1951. By reading psychological case histories, Dali hoped to represent neuroses in an ultra-realistic style so as to objectify the irrational with photographic accuracy.
A lot of his artwork has some kind of connection to other artwork of his, like the melting clock, his symbol of death, and most of all is Dali’s anamorphic self portrait mask that appears in allot of his paintings. The shape of the face, usually presented resting on its nose, is strongly reminiscent of one of the rock formation of the coastline near Dali’s home. Leda Atomica is some what connected to The Madonna of Port Lligat, as if Dali is showing a symbolic story of his relationship with Gala, (Gala- is his lover/wife).
In the painting of Leda Atomica, Dali shows Leda played by Gala, the mother of semidivine children, whose birth is indicated by the broken eggshell out of which they were hatched. Gala is presented as a mother, and furthermore, with the swan’s beak hardly touching her. She seems to represent a kind of miraculous and quit spiritualized form of impregnation. Gala appears in many of his paintings including The Madonna of Port Lligat, and that she plays a very important role for Dali, not just modeling but yet also some kind of hope and inspiration to Dali himself.
He paints the appearance of the swan Zeus to the naked Gala, as an annunciation scene, the winged carrier of the women’s destiny whispers her future in her ear, a memory perhaps of the legend that the conception of Jesus in the Virgin Mary was achieved by the introduction to her ear of the breath of the Holy Ghost. Leda Atomica is Dali’s way if interpreting the Annunciation, Leda plays a mortal woman visited by a metamorphosis god in order that she might bear his child, acts thereafter as a conduit through which her son’s mortal counterparts may regain access to the god that gave them birth.
A figure of intercession, an agent of mediation between rational man and state beyond the rational, she is both child-women and women-with-child” (#2 – pp. 68-76), because she is a virgin, based on the Christian- Catholic divinity belief. Gala in a sense is a god’s muse, and is close to those incarnations of the surrealist muse “Gala is being the supreme example” according to Dali, who owe their pictorial and literary identity to ht e activity of their men. The muse is the object of “desire, of love, and God is, famously, love itself” (#2 – pp. 68-76 & according to Dali’s philosophy).
Dali’s transformation of Mary is the result of love as if he created his love to Gala, like God to Mary. Dali paints Gala’s wedding ring, a picture of a mystic marriage, which result in the “Twin immortalisation” of Dali and Gala. Dali shows his thought of seducing Gala in his paining of Leda Atomica, in a way of dreams, symbolism, and combining religious and Greek mythology in his own personal taste. The suspension in space of objects and architecture of the Leda Atomica painting symbolizes the demonstration that is the equivalent in physics, in the atomic age, of divine gravitation, as if it’s a free roaming over modern science.
Every object in the painting is carefully painted to be motionless in space, even though nothing in the painting is connected whatsoever, even Leda (Gala) is not touching anything, she barely try to touch the large swan bottom head, but it never touches it in the painting. Her right hand suggests her feeling of urge of something that is yet unclear to even her self. It might be the symbolism of the process of her impregnation, and the love and mystery of the swan. Leda looks straight into the bird’s eyes with an understanding expression of what is happening to her and what will happen in the feature to her and to her unsure reality.
The Madonna of Port Lligat has the Virgin Mary “Gala”, and has the egg falling on top of her head from a seashell that hangs motionless in space. Unlike Leda in the Leda Atomica that has a broken egg on the bottom of the painting, and hangs motionless in space. Both backgrounds contains water and Dali’s mysterious mountains, but The Madonna of Port Lligat painting has objects that are from the sea like shells and a fish on a broken plate, while the Leda Atomica painting contains a large muse and a red small book. But why is the broken egg shell in Leda’s painting and the new egg is in the Madonna’s painting?
That still lies unclear. I watched a film by Dali – “A Soft self-portrait”, that was narrated by Orson Welles and filmed in Spain in 1969, that explains a little about Dali himself and his work but wasn’t much help. It was a little “Weird” at first, but yet I got used to him making the film, and his way of speaking, which he called “Dalian English”, which was very hard to understand what exactly was he saying. In the video, he said that he never fully understood his own artwork, ” I never understand my work”, as he explains “Never Dali understand one painting of Dali”, and then he concluded, “Because Dali only creates enigmas.
Mystification is his way of life, and Gala will always be a part of it. Leda Atomica’s composition is fairly complex and there are many different other explanations to the painting and its composition of its objects and figures, which was one of the goals that Dali had in mind as he painted. As Dali creates an artwork, one of his goals is do something that is strange that comes from the deep thoughts of his mind that yet people can relate to it just by looking at it and keep looking at it. These thoughts might come from his dreams, beliefs, and/or reality.
Salvador Dali uses history, literature, religion, mythology, politics, contemporary science and psychology to construct a series of personae within which he could create his work, and in the context of which he could manipulate its reception (#6 – Salvador Dali). A lot of people refer to Dali as crazy painter or that he has mental problems, but the real truth is, Dali is a genius. Just because he thinks different from everyone else, do not mean he has mental problems. Leda that represents Gala is not only his lover, but yet she is his best and personal follower, that Dali suggests it as “The love of the Gods. “