Art Reviews

Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dali

        This is one of my favorite paintings of the crucifixion of Jesus for many reasons. Dali incorporated such intrinsic modernization techniques extracted from something so antiquated from Renaissance​ mannerism, that it is impossible not to observe. Consider the “cosmic” figure of Christ hanging. You will notice that there are no nails or ropes supporting his body.  Dali has substituted perfection for suffering. There are no crown of thorns or blood present. This is a perfect Christ, and Dali is not hesitant to show it. He is muscular and young looking; not ravaged and beaten as is mostly projected by other painters. Although his face is not visible to us, he is looking down on his creation, even though his situation is death-like; however, there is something or someone looking down on him, as the suggestion and position of the cross imposes.

        Dali also expresses his talent and devotion to mathematics. The center of the head of Christ is a nuclear circle and the hanging and position of his arms and his outstretched feet forms a triangular pattern that is attached and supported by the cross itself. This is significant to the painting because Dali is metaphorically, through visual representation, asserting two important and viable themes. To the Christian, the triangle is a symbol of the trinity; the circle is a symbol of eternity.

         Unlike most paintings of the crucifixion, Dali is capturing and celebrating the miracle that is life. Notice the heavenly light(from an unknown source)trickling down the backside of Christ. The brilliance is contrasted sharply with the darkness surrounding the cross. At once, atmospheric clouds are separating from the tranquil scene below to further develop Dali’s obsession with the celebration of life; a new day is in sequence, maybe even a new time.Time and eternity are the new champions and preservers of humanity.The mystery of Christ is unchallenged, and his purpose has arrived in full throttle!The landscape below is blessed by Christ himself; fishermen stand with their nets. What is the symbolism here? This scene echoes Christ instructing his apostles to spread the Gospel: “And he saith to them: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) The mounds rising in the bay in the distance are symbolic of how large and far the message of Christianity has been spread.

         This painting is one of the most theatrical and splendid of so sensitive a subject; I write the order of the review of the details by not of how I recall them, but in the act of the impression that it has made on me. Dali is one of the most and astonishing ‘natural’ artists of the 20th century. The composition is a remarkable demonstration of his attestation of struggle and triumph represented by oil and canvas.