Dalí’s Elephant


Madhav Reading Stories of Devi (2007) by Sakti Burman.

Dalí’s Elephant is a group exhibition at London’s Aicon Gallery that “traces the echoes of Surrealism in modern and contemporary art from the Indian Subcontinent.” The exhibition title refers to the gift ashtray which Salvador Dalí designed for Air India in 1967:

In 1967 Air India commissioned Salvador Dali to produce a limited edition ashtray which was to be given to a select group of lucky first-class passengers. Dali produced a small unglazed porcelain ashtray composed of a shell-shaped centre with a serpent around its perimeter. This was supported by three stands, two of which point in the same direction and resemble an elephant’s head. The third stand was inverted so that it resembled swan’s head. Dali was initially paid no more than a few hundred dollars for his design but when they received the design the airline bosses were so delighted that they made Dali the surprise gift of an elephant. Dali lived with the elephant for a few days at his Portligat home before donating the beast to the local zoo. (More.)

The Surrealist element is very much a trace in some of the works which seems surprising given the distinctive heritage of India’s religious imagery, as was demonstrated recently at A Journey Round My Skull. But I like the Sakti Burman paintings, especially the example shown here. Dalí’s Elephant runs to September 4th, 2010.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Marsi Paribatra: the Royal Surrealist
Dalí in Wonderland
Bollywood posters
Impressions de la Haute Mongolie revisited
Dalí and Film
The persistence of DNA
Salvador Dalí’s apocalyptic happening
Dalí Atomicus
Impressions de la Haute Mongolie

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