Everyone remembers at least one painting by Salvador Dali. As one of the fathers of the Surrealism movements, he is up there with Max Ernst, André Breton and René Magritte. The man attracted controversy and criticism and probably even some scorn. Remember Avida Dollars? But the man was talented. If you were to carefully look through his paintings, besides the abundance of melting clocks, penises and boobs, you will see the influence of his favorite region – Costa Brava. The area where he was born and brought up. Costa Brava is what we call today as Emporda.
Cap de Creus
Emporda is Dali country. It is also stunningly beautiful and the coast is full of secret coves and beaches. You are bound to find some of them especially along the walk from Cadaques to Cap de Creus. Cap de Creus is the eastern most point of Spain. If you are in this neighborhood, this is a walk you should do.
The winds that make men mad
The region is also known for the terrible winds called Tramontana. Legend has it that these winds can make men mad. Dali believed this. He thought that he would go mad being exposed to these winds and he actually feared going mad. Therefore he eventually moved his family to Barcelona.
But, you can see the craggy rocks of the Cap de Creus in the hyper-sexual and suggestive painting “The Spectre of Sex-Appeal”. This painting hangs in the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres.
The Dali triangle
People refer to this region as the Dali triangle with the 3 villages forming the points of the triangle. Figueres (where he was born), Cadaques or Port Lligat actually (where he lived) and Pubol (where he built a castle for his wife/muse Gala).
Cadaques is charming and quaint and it is easy, even desirable to get lost in the alleyways that line the waterfront. There are great restaurants and stores to be discovered here.
Port Lligat while charming and quaint, retains it’s fishing village identity. Salvador Dali’s home where he lived with his wife Gala, dominates the waterfront
Gala – the boat
You might even catch the yellow boat that Dali named after his wife Gala, parked on the quay. Dali and his wife explored the region here on this boat.
Sang de Crist
Dali painted here a lot and this coast featured in several of his paintings. Check out The Sacrament of the Last Supper and you will see the bay of Port Lligat behind Christ and his apostles. Symbolism is rife in Dali’s paintings. By placing Port Lligat so strategically behind Christ, was he suggesting that Port Lligat is heaven? I think he was. It is possible that the wine in the tumbler in front of Jesus Christ is from Emporda!
This painting now hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Girl at a Window
My favorite painting of Salvador Dali is not a surreal one, but the Girl at a Window, also sometimes called Figure at a Window, painted in 1925.
It shows his sister Anna Maria, looking out the window onto the waters of Cadaques. It reminds me of a tranquil summer with innocence and simple joys and promise of a Sunday lunch in the near future. You can feel the salt in the air and if you take a deep breath, you can smell the sea, the whiff of fish scales and damp marine lines. There is also a hint of sadness, because such tranquility of childhood is not forever. We grow up and we move on to other things, some better, some worse. With time, maybe a memory of such a day resurfaces in our minds.
At least, that’s what I see, when I look at this painting. I was fortunate to see this painting at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.
Let’s talk some Emporda wines.