Sleep approaches by Salvador Dali

Sleep approaches by Salvador Dali

The sky was already dense, with the first stars on it, but the horizon was still illuminated by a pinkish sunset. Or is it the dawn? The viewer is given the opportunity to solve this issue himself. The night sky fades, turns pink at sunrise, the stars disappear. The landscape is full of peace. The surface of the sea is immovable, the heavens are silent.

On the shore, a few steps from the water, stands a naked man. He looks towards the sea, where the cliffs are lit in the water. Or even further – to where the rocky cape cuts into the sea. The person is relaxed, in a relaxed posture he is pacified; it

organically fits into this idyllic landscape. A significant part of the picture is occupied by the sky, but the sky on this canvas is not just an empty space. It is drawn by dynamic rounded strokes, bringing motion to this world, frozen in the pre-dawn slumber.

Two clouds are gliding along the arc of the sky, as in orbit. They, as if in contrast to the rest of the landscape, are not at all illusory, not ephemeral. On the contrary, they are material, convex and move very clearly and purposefully, resembling predatory birds or a pair of fighter planes. On the shore towers tower: a narrow, cylindrical shape, with a single window at the top. Its surface is rugged by cracks, from under the peeling plaster brickwork is looked through. On the base of the tower cast a shadow of two high cypresses. And the tower, and cypresses, these still more than once appear on the canvas of Dali.

In particular, in the painting “A Horseman named Death”, which will be written a decade later. Common motives turn these two canvases into a complementary pair. Sleep and death, Hypnos and Thanatos. Cypress has long been a symbol of death, sorrow, mourning. A tall tower, looking to the sky, suggests a pre-dawn erotic dream.

In the foreground is a huge bed. It is covered with a white sheet, the bedspread is folded, like waves. Over the cover, birds are wandering about the field. The pillow in the headboard vaguely resembles the shape of a sea shell. Thanks to all these details, the bed, even such a cyclopean, does not look like a foreign element on the canvas.

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