Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domènech – one of the most eccentric artists of the past century. He was born in Figueres in Catalonia in 1904. Despite that since his death passed more than 20 years, his presence is strongly felt here and in the places associated with his work and life. His memory is alive in the memories of the inhabitants of Barcelona – those who only heard about him but most of all those who had the chance to get to know the original creator.
For this reason, in the last year, I visited the parents of my friend – Bertha and Martin, who agreed to tell me about Dalí, one of the most important representatives of surrealism. Apparently by his behavior and way of being reminded own work: crazy, on the edge of dream and reality.
During the meeting it became clear that the life of Bertha and Martin could be a separate material for an article, because they both are quite well-known figures of rock music. Bertha – former model and dancer , Martin – a painter and photographer, 40 years ago founded the popular today, Spanish magazine Popular 1, dedicated to rock music. Thanks to the work in the magazine they had a chance to meet rock legends of the 70’s and 80’s.
This time I met with them at the end of November 2013 in their house and studio in Barcelona to hear about their relationship with Dalí. Martin met the artist by mutual friend – model – which posed for the artist’s paintings. Dali invited Martin to work which lasted about four years:
Martin: ” made pictures for him, while he worked on „Christs”. Despite what is generally believed, Dalí did not paint very well, but he could copied well and everything he painted was modeled on the pictures. At the time, he created three works with mentioned earlier model, but she was not like „she” on it , so she offended on the artist. Probably he presented her thicker than she was in reality. Certainly, he had a huge imagination and creativity.
Our first meeting took place at a party. Among the gathered walked waiter with a bottle of champagne Don Perignon. Majordomo said that according to tradition, when champagne will be served all should kiss the cup and leave it in place without drinking of its contents. Everyone followed the instructions, but when my turn came I decided to take advantage of the delicious drink and I drank entire contents of the glass. Dali watching me firstly astonished, and soon after became indignant. He touched my shoulder and said, „Martin, come with me.”
He then introduced me to the house adding:
– Dear Mr. Martin, did you not understand the instructions on how to proceed with champagne?
– Yes – I replied. So why did not you following the instructions? – asked Dali.
– With a very simple reason. Do not everyday people serve me Don Perignon- I answered.
I realized then that senseless rules were a kind of test for idiots. Those who follow them, never appeared again in the home of Salvador. My relationship with Dali improved thanks to our magazine dedicated to rock – Popular 1 – continues Martin. Dali loved music – he was so eccentric as many of Rock musician, with the difference that instead of playing, he painted.
He wanted to know all the news from the music world. He asked for Alice Coope, David Bowie, Bob Dylan… He asked us about them because we have worked with many artists and we had a chance to get to know them. During his visits in New York made it all the most important people to came to see him. Elvis Presley once gave him a socks. These socks can be seen on one of the pictures, which I did”.
At the age of 25 years Dalí met a lot older Gala which was the wife of the French poet Paul Eduard. The woman quickly became his muse. Dali once said: I love Gala more than my mother, more than his father, more than Picasso, and even more than money. Their relationship can not be called the typical. They were a pair of eccentrics living in a kind of symbiosis. Dalí funny and sarcastic, Gala very intelligent, resourceful, but not abolishing that any woman beyond her aroused his interest.
Bertha mentions how at the party in Ritz Hotel Dalí came close to her with an orchid in her hand and touched her arm, saying high tone: Sperm! – There was nothing strange in such eccentric behavior of the artist, who was known for his quirks, but incident saw Gala.
„I did not get look back as caught up for me, grabbed my ankles, fell on the ground and began to pull by whole room – remembers Bertha – Can you imagine? She had already somehow the eighties, but with small figure and energy seemed younger! I was a young girl. It was a terrible woman, I did not like her. When it happened Dalí did not move from his place, and the show stopped finally a musician, whose Gala hitting on. She was choleric, although she not continued sexual relations with her husband, she could not stand when he focused his attention on other women. A similar thing she done to my friend, the Swedish model’s. Once she came up to her, grabbed her hand and scratched his nails up to blood!”
” That’s true, Gala had a strong character, and in later years, their more often arguing – adds Martin – once I had to separate them because Dali began to beat his wife with walking stick. As it turned out, she needed strong emotions and the fact that he little battered her was good for her.
Dalí had his fears and phobias, for example, was afraid of the dark so much that it was hard to accept the fact that his manhood disappeared into the dark woman’s womb. He avoided sex seeking other forms of satisfying themselves. Already from childhood he felt anxiety associated with darkness and very quickly began to realize that something needs to be done.
To confront this fear he could hide for a few hours in the closet. Once he sitting in the wardrobe for so long that relieve there. It happened at Christmas. In the room where the wardrobe was started gather family. At one point, a young Salvador jumped out of wardrobe and frightened gathered, but after a while they began to feel the smell of the thing he had left there. Because all came with gifts, Dalí said, „And now look for a gift that I did.” Finally wardrobe was removed from the home ” -laughs Martin.
The relationship between Dali and Gala were mutual admiration for the intellect. He really appreciated her intellect, and she appreciated of him. Gala whole life was his inspiration and muse, but sex did not join them. Dali to satisfy temperament of the older wife (of 10 years) decided to organize her trysts with other men. Gala used the fame of her husband to get to famous men, those who liked her. Tryst took place in Castillo de Puvol – at home, which Dali had bought his wife.
In their relationship Gala dealt with finances, invented the strategy of earnings, was some kind of his manager.
Martin mentions: ” To earn she organized a meeting with Dali, just informing him that the next day he will have e.g. a group of Japanese and asked to come up with something. She consisted in his fame and could sell what he made, she had skills for this. Many people treat Dali as the great maestro and Gala was able to use it. So called horoscope was also her idea. When they returned to Paris, they had no money and Gala had to come up with something to get it. She introduced her husband all her friends and created a kind of club, called horoscope. To the club belonged 12 personality (mainly aristocrats), who had to pay a monthly amount for the maintenance of Dali. At the end of the year Dali exhibited 12 paintings, which were then drawn among the members of the club”.
Martin collaborated with Salvador Dali for about four years. Both of them got along well, the photographer was one of three persons who had keys to the house of the artist, which meant that he could stay in his house even since absence of the owner. „Salvador Dali was a cheerful and eccentric guy, willing to learn new things and extremely interested in innovations from the world of science. It was an interesting experience and definitely I will never forget his years of working with Salvador” – ends Martin.
We finish drink the coffee, and as usual, we will see on Thursday’s Anti-Karaoke to listen to amateur rock singer – If Dalí lived, definitely he would be at a rock show, created years ago by Martin’s son – Cesar. This unique concert where everyone can sing, collects every day hundreds of people.
If you’re a fan of Rock and want to take part in the Anti-Karaoke in MAGIC club in Barcelona, please visit the facebook: Antikaraokecesarmartin or learn more on our website and see the section Things to do.
Interview with Martin & Bertha conducted by: Ewa Nowak,
Pictures: Marti Frías,