0185-Figure on the rocks (1926)

Oil on panel, 40 x 26 cm Private collection

Click on the image for a large view and details
Figure on the rocks (1926)
Personnage sur les rochers

Analysis: This dazzling little picture was painted on a panel of olive wood at Cadaqués during the summer of 1926. By looking at it one arrives at a better understanding of how the monumental architecture of the rocks on the coast around Cadaqués could influence Dalí’s landscapes of the Surrealist period. Here he has faithfully painted the steep cliffs of Cape Norfeu, located between the Bay of Cadaqués and the Port of Rosas. This little landscape, full of nostalgia, is one of the most typical canvases that the Catalonian painter produced during that period; among the others, we must mention “Portrait of Ana Maria” on copper, “Venus and Cupids”, “The Basket of Bread”, and “The Rocks of Llané”, an oil which has now disappeared and on which the artist probably painted another subject, later on, in his Surrealist period. Dalí relates that during the same summer in Cadaqués he painted “Figure on the Rocks – Penya Segats”, “The Basket of Bread”, and began the first picture of the Cubist series: “It’s paradoxical; exactly the same morning I was doing the two works at the same time: “The Landscape of Cape Norfeu” and “Still Life by the Light of the Moon“. The diagonal composition of “Figure on the Rocks” is remarkable. One finds it again and again throughout Dalí’s work: “Blood Is Sweeter Than Honey”, “The Madonna of Port Lligat”, “Hyperxiological Sky”, “The Perpignan Railway Station”, or again in “Tuna-Fishing”. The Catalonian words penya segats in the title mean “rock” (penya), “cut or sliced” (segats).

0184-Figure on the rocks (1926)

Oil on panel, 41 x 27 cm The Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg (Florida)

 

Click on the image for a large view and details
Figure on the rocks (1926)
Personnage sur les rochers

Analysis: This kind of composition first appeared in the middle of 1926, when Dalí was painting landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and Cubist compositions at the same time. There are not more than six canvases done in this manner, in which one sees this type of ample female creature stretched out on the sand or on the rocks. These figures visibly show the influence of the works of Picasso from the period called neo-realistic, between 1920 and 1922. Dalí groups them instead in what he calls “the time of neoCubist academies.” Lorca, Dalí’s sister, and other friends were in the habit of giving these paintings a Catalonian explanation coming from the peculiar patois of Cadaqués – trossos de Coniam, which means, when referring to a person, that he is completely lacking in intelligence and is “totally physical, a sort of vegetable!” Dalí never used it literally in the pejorative sense; on the whole he was interested in the vegetative and soft aspect of the figure, in spite of the apparent Cubist treatment, and its opposition to the hardness of the rocks.
Figure on the rocks” was painted in Cadaqués in the studio where Dalí had hung reproductions of Picasso on the wall, one of which he had torn from the magazine “L ‘Art d ‘aujourd’hui“. This page depicted two women running on the beach; it is probably from a backdrop curtain painted shortly after the end of World War I for one of Diaghilev’s Russian ballets. Several other pictures of this series were done in Figueras. At the time, Dalí was intrigued with geometry, with regulative diagrams and everything that related to the golden section. In “Figure on the rocks” the diagonal construction, not so visually evident as in the preceding colorplate, “Figure on the Rocks – Penya Segats“, or even in “Venus and Cupids“, is, however, very definite: the complete structure of the subject radiates from the exact point of the intersection of the diagonals, found slightly below the navel, which is the optical center of the picture.
Source: dali-gallery.com