What if Salvador Dali was born in 1983 instead of 1904?
Imagine his childhood filled with images of urban America instead of the beautiful countrysides of Spain. What would his work look like if he painted out of a studio in Brooklyn, a product of this generation, influenced by our fashion, music, and style?
Envision a Salvador painting about the issues facing modern society, inspired by things like the internet, social media, corporate america, politics, religion, and more. Witness Dali’s masterpieces reworked through an updated lens as art history collides with modern culture. I intend to pick up where he left off, with more than fifty years of perspective to guide me along they way. It is a humble tribute to my greatest inspiration.
36 X 48″ Acrylic on canvas, 2013
The Hallucinogenic Toreador has long been my favorite work from Dali. When I was able to view it in person for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed by its size and execution. It is completely flawless, and so great in size, you can literally walk into the composition. It’s no wonder many people, critic and fan alike, consider it to be his quintessential work. An apex moment; encompassing every element of his painting repertoire. It incorporates themes from Dalí’s Catalan culture, his religious upbringing, and many other specific aspects of his life.
In brief summary, When shopping for art supplies, Dali purchased a box of Venus-brand pencils and discovered a face within the shadows of the logo. This simple experience led to one of Dali’s most impressive paintings. It overflows with flies, Venus statues, and other Dalinian images gathered inside a large bullring. Yet in the center of the canvas these images transform into the face of a Bullfighter. The Bull is cleverly camouflaged in the lower left on the painting.
There was no doubt that this would be one of the most challenging pieces in the show. I was committed to following the composition, and updating the content. My version, The Hallucinogenic Bankers, deals with our economic system, the fallacies of fiat currency, and the overlooked bravery of JFK.
The Federal Reserve has replaced the arena and hovers over the scene, in which the toreador is now two bankers. In the center a young man dons a pinstripe suit, and the older, Madoff-esque character wears a red cashmere scarf. A seasoned veteran with an upstart young gun. They keep the secrets of the system, one generation handing down knowledge to the next to ensure survival. They get inebriated off their greed, satisfied with hallucinations of grandeur in a system doomed to fail.
According to The Daily Reckoning’s Nick Jones, “The history of fiat money, to put it kindly, has been one of failure. In fact, EVERY fiat currency since the Romans first began the practice in the first century has ended in devaluation and eventual collapse, of not only the currency, but of the economy that housed the fiat currency as well.” Fiat money is defined as inconvertible paper money made legal tender by a government decree. In other words, it has no intrinsic value. It’s based off of inflation and debt, and enslaves us to the lower rungs of the social class system. Consider this controversial quote from President Woodrow Wilson, the day after he signed the Federal Reserve Act into existence:
“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by Conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”
We were all witness to this in 2008, when the economy crashed, and an iconic image of Wall Street, the Merrill Lynch bull, became a symbol of epic failure instead of timeless consistency. It rests in the same place as Dali’s, in the same position, as if he predicted it would fit there in the future. It would not be the first people would say he had psychic ability. An ominous reminder of how quickly things change. The all Seeing Eye sits between the horns of the bull, resting in a pyramid just as we see it on our bills. The light shining from the pyramid mimics Dali’s colorful spheres. The same eye is recycled to form the profile of a pharaoh facing the left. Some people believe that this system of control has existed since the days of Egyptian Kings, passed along in the darkness of secret societies to survive until this very day.
In keeping with the masters layout and composition, the flies are now coins, and Gala has been replaced with Ben Franklin. There were certain points during this process which felt as if Dali had provided the framework for my ideas a generation before, and all I had to do was connect the dots. With no avail I attempted to discover what to do with the glowing figure holding an object in the air. Then it became clear. The meaning was irrelevant. The placement was priceless. By connecting that figure to the floating head of gala in the top left, I was able to create a representation of the golden parachutes the failing companies provided to their executives. They let us hit rock bottom and they land softly on a pile of money. From the bull, to the eye, to the parachute, a compositionally accurate depiction of current events that unfolded in our time.
It it not my intent to suggest an opinion on the matter. This painting provides a narrative of fact, and hopefully you can form your own perspective on the matter at hand. Consider , that on June 4, 1963, a little known attempt was made to
strip the Federal Reserve Bank of its power to loan money to the government at interest. On that day President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order No. 11110, seen along the bottom of the painting, that returned to the U.S. government the power to issue currency, without going through the Federal Reserve. Mr. Kennedy’s order gave the Treasury the power “to issue silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard silver dollars in the Treasury.” With the stroke of a pen, he would change everything.
He was assassinated just months later, and the bill died along with the man.