|Courtesy of www.dalipaintings.com|
Dali's title - Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko) - provides a perfect description of this
painting. Standing close, we see Gala with her back turned to us, looking toward the rising Mediterranean sun. That glowing sun doubles as an image of Christ, seen from above, ascending.
In this way, Gala directs our attention heavenwards and reminds us of the fleeting nature of beauty. But when we stand further back, twenty meters, as the title prescribes, we can see that
the head of Abraham Lincoln fills the entire canvas.
This painting was inspired by a Scientific American article Dali read about visual perception which investigated the minimum number of pixels needed to describe a unique human face. Dali was challenged by that question and set about making this portrait of Lincoln using 121 pixels. In his canvas, he pushes this concept of perception and external sight. This double image painting provides a meditation on the dual nature of things. In addition to the theme of sight and insight, the work alludes to themes of life and death and to Dali's Spanish and American identity. The beauty of Gala is countered by references to mortality, including the focus on the assassinated president, the crucified image of Christ, and the dedication to Mark Rothko, a painter of Dali's age who committed suicide in 1970.