Ch. 1

Clear & Brief
Prologue

By: Z. A. Counts
& Salvidor Dali
Notes
  1. 1. Dedication

At the age of six I wanted to be Dali—and I wasn’t.
At the age of fifteen I wanted to be Me and I have been.
At the age of twenty-five I wanted to become the most sensational painter in the world and I achieved it.
At thirty-five I want to affirm my life by success and I will attain it.
I want to paint a masterpiece and to save Contemporary Art from chaos and laziness.
I will succeed! This book is consecrated to this crusade and I dedicate it to all the young, who have faith in true painting.

in which it is explained that the beginning of this book is to be found only at the end

“The two most fortunate things that can happen to a painter are, first, to be Spanish and, second, to be named Dali. Those two fortunate things have happened to me.”

– Salvidor Dali
& Z.A.Counts

SALVIDOR, AS his very name indicated, was destined to nothing less than to rescue painting from the void of modern art. This categorical affirmation, though it would seem at first sight, by its egocentricity, to have been written by SALVIDOR himself, is from the pen of the famous Catalonian philosopher, Francese Pujols. In 1937, in the midst of the surrealist chaos when he wrote this, I admit —modestly, for once—that I myself, in spite of my ambitious imperialisms of very kind, did not place much faith in it. Today I realize, however, that I have become, little by little, firmly convinced of it.

This is due essentially to the fact that my intelligence has never ceased to grow in the course of my ambition which, as everyone knows, has always been lofty and majestic since my tenderest childhood. I like to compare my ambition to a century-old oak tree, and my intelligence to a loving vine which climbs round its bark to reach its top. And if this oak tree seems to me to be immemorial and immobile in its growth, so august and harmonious is its lofty height, the vine of my intelligence, on the contrary, appears to me to have a biological exuberance, to grow by leaps, in as much as each time I observe what is happening to me at the moment of beginning or of completing a work, I am always surprised by the bursting forth of vigorous new shoots. And this is so true that I can say right now that in the three or four days since I have begun to write this book I already feel myself more intelligent than before. Fortunately so! For in order to be capable of writing this book—a kind of culinary initiation to the Eleusinian Mysteries of painting—and in order to make translucid the most obscure technical secrets, which would seem to require the art of magic in addition to the practice of painting itself, it does not suffice to be terribly intelligent. Indeed I would go so far as to have the deeply rooted suspicion that all the greatest intelligences combined would not suffice to succeed in such an undertaking, and that consequently the writer who should undertake such a task would have to possess, in addition, some other supra-essential thing, and this other thing, this “quintessence” of the essential, which happens to be exactly what is required to paint a beautiful picture, I must say at once—and for the exclusive benefit of my readers—this other thing I also possess. But I do not wish to say at once what this thing is: in the first place, for fear of discouraging my readers by wearying them through a too great presumption on my part, and in the second place because I have the catholic habit of always beginning at the end. Is not “beginning with ends” the essence of catholicity?

The ear of Van Gogh, the right hand of Dali, and the eyes of Condo —Modern painters, house painters and the ancients—What is a well painted picture? Van Gogh was mad, and unconditionally, generously and gratuitously cut off his left ear with the blade of a razor. I am not mad either, yet I would be perfectly capable of allowing my left hand to be cut off, but this under the most interesting circumstances imaginable: on condition, namely, that I might for ten minutes be able to observe Salvador Dali seated before his easel as he was painting. I should even be capable of much more than that, for I should likewise be prepared to let my right ear, and even both ears, be removed provided I might learn the exact formula of the mixture which composes the “precious juice” in which this same Salvador, unique among the unique (and whom I do not call divine because he is the most human of all painter), dips his exquisitely rare brush; which, I have no doubt, was in his time as common, daily and usual as in turn must have been the “precious juice,” the current coin of the ingredients of the studios within lost times but which has become in our dull and scatological days of egotistical artistic decadence impossible to conjure.

Authentically communicating thoughts of the time like no other mediums could; this liquid gem could not hope to be ransomed for all of the gold in the world for the simple reason that the formula of the “media’’ with which painters of previous times cast their immortal works into existence does not exist any longer. There does not exist a single person on the globe who knows today what was the composition of that mysterious juice, the “medium” in which these masters dipped their brushes to paint. Not a living soul can unearth the mixture of linseed oil, turpentine , and pigment that each carefully crafted their palettes with. No one knows —not even I! The fact that there exists no precise recipe of that period which might guide us, and that no chemical or physical analysis can explain to us today the “majestic imponderables” of the “pictorial matter” of the old masters, has often caused our contemporaries to assume and to believe that the ancients possessed secrets which they jealously and fanatically guarded. I am inclined to believe rather the contrary, namely that such recipes must in their time have been precisely so little secret, so incorporated in the everydayness of the routine life of all painters, so much a part of an uninterrupted tradition of every minute of experience, that such secrets must have been transmitted almost wholly orally, without anyone’s even taking the trouble to note them down or, if so, only by means of that elegiac charcoal pencil with which the masters traced so many unknown, effaced and often angelic ephemerides.

Any attempt at reconjuring the metaphysical structures that gave way to these bespoke methods of production will require virtually going back to the time they were crafted, and reassembling them piece by piece by dissecting the rationale to choose such enlightened means of creation. Before attempting such a harrowing feat it should be noted that if one places on one side of the scales of balance of pictorial justice a single drop of the medium with which Salvidor of Spain paint, one should not hesitate a second in throwing on the other scale of this same balance the left ear of Van Gogh, the eyes of George Condo, and an impressive quantity besides of viscera of all sorts, even the most intimate, snatched somewhat at random from the most disorganized anatomies of our modern painters. And if all this freshly cut raw flesh does not —as I strongly suspect —suffice to “make up the weight,” one should not then hesitate to add for good measure the two ponderous hands of the touching Henri Matisse. Since this book is to be a book of justice in retrospect, it will inevitably be cruel to the painting of those times, and if we owe an infinite respect to the dramatic obscenities of assemblage we communicate, we also owe nothing less than measured appraisal of the faults and splendors reaped from the ingredients of past thought.

Which lies to bare, what time should we go about searching? Personally, I want to know what young Salvador was contemplating as he laid his brush down from completing his last still life at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando as he professed to his professors that they simply were unfit to judge his work because of their obvious lack of insightful knowledge. At that very time the brush of Dali emitted a sound whose frequencies traveled across dimensions like a blessing from the holy ordained to cast the metaphysical into existence from out of the ether. What causes this difference in metaphysical wavelengths produced by brushes is the objective-ness of the object. The objectiveness to overthrow one’s boundaries in search of true justice. This transformation from pictorial tyranny to aesthetic justice is not owned by young Salvidor’s present moment alone, but reoccurs throughout history and potentially even within this visiting present moment. Which bears the question, which times do these sacred thoughts belong? With limited space within one’s own pictorial scale and a finite amount of time for us to explore, which visual samples are worth retrieving and which are worth being cast into the nothingness of the past?

Any attempt at reconjuring the metaphysical structures that gave way to these bespoke methods of production will require virtually going back to the time they were crafted, and reassembling them piece by piece by dissecting the rationale to choose such enlightened means of creation. Before attempting such a harrowing feat it should be noted that if one places on one side of the scales of balance of pictorial justice a single drop of the medium with which Salvidor of Spain paint, one should not hesitate a second in throwing on the other scale of this same balance the left ear of Van Gogh, the eyes of George Condo, and an impressive quantity besides of viscera of all sorts, even the most intimate, snatched somewhat at random from the most disorganized anatomies of our modern painters. And if all this freshly cut raw flesh does not —as I strongly suspect —suffice to “make up the weight,” one should not then hesitate to add for good measure the two ponderous hands of the touching Henri Matisse. Since this book is to be a book of justice in retrospect, it will inevitably be cruel to the painting of those times, and if we owe an infinite respect to the dramatic obscenities of assemblage we communicate, we also owe nothing less than measured appraisal of the faults and splendors reaped from the ingredients of past thought.

Which lies to bare, what time should we go about searching? Personally, I want to know what young Salvador was contemplating as he laid his brush down from completing his last still life at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando as he professed to his professors that they simply were unfit to judge his work because of their obvious lack of insightful knowledge. At that very time the brush of Dali emitted a sound whose frequencies traveled across dimensions like a blessing from the holy ordained to cast the metaphysical into existence from out of the ether. What causes this difference in metaphysical wavelengths produced by brushes is the objective-ness of the object. The objectiveness to overthrow one’s boundaries in search of true justice. This transformation from pictorial tyranny to aesthetic justice is not owned by young Salvidor’s present moment alone, but reoccurs throughout history and potentially even within this visiting present moment. Which bears the question, which times do these sacred thoughts belong? With limited space within one’s own pictorial scale and a finite amount of time for us to explore, which visual samples are worth retrieving and which are worth being cast into the nothingness of the past?