Muscat: A collection of sculptures and lithographs by the famous surrealist Spanish artist Salvador Dali were unveiled Saturday night at Bait Al Baranda, drawing many excited fans.
The exhibition, which is part of the Muscat Art Festival, provides a rare chance for art aficionados in Oman to see work by one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Dali, who lived from 1904 to 1989, was prominent in the surrealist movement, in which art was based on dreams, imagination, subconscious mind and humour as an escape from the horrid realities of the World Wars and other social problems.
"I think Dali is one of the most famous artists, and it's great to have his pieces in the Sultanate. It's a great showcase for the artists to see," explained Malik Al Hinai, director of Bait Al Baranda.
The pieces on display are from the Espace Dali Museum in Paris, which is a private collection dedicated to Dali's work. They range from his melted clocks and thin-legged elephants to abstract furniture.
"In Paris we have the big ones, the museum-size versions," said Celine Quinio, from Espace Dali.
Quinio explained that the founder of Espace Dali encouraged the artist to make more sculptures, and that some of them were made in batches of a few hundred so that Dali could make more money from them. While some of Dali's contemporaries criticised him for wanting to make money from his work, his response was that he didn't want to die broke like Vincent Van Gogh, who only sold one painting during his life.
"The advantage for the artists is that from one mould, you can make many sculptures, and that way, make more money. This was important for him," Quinio noted.
Showcasing Dali's work in Oman is important for many reasons, Quinio said. Dali was one of the most significant figures from 20th century art and his work still influences other artists, designers, musicians and advertisers today, she added.
"Above all, he's an artist who didn't just create during the surrealist movement. He created from the age of six to the age of 83 years, so his whole life is a vast collection. It's important that worldwide people get to see it," she said.
Many local artists and art lovers were thrilled to have the opportunity to see Dali's work here in Muscat.
"I was amazed at how intimate the setting was and how close you could get to the pieces. It was really exciting, especially because there were pieces from the time series, which was so iconic," said painter Ibrahim Gailani.
The exhibition will run until February 28, and can be visited from Saturday to Thursday, 9.00am to 1.00pm and 4.00pm to 6.00pm.