By KYLEE BAGLEY
On November 20, Cumberland County College’s Clay College had the opportunity to welcome a great artist into their midst for a night of Surrealism, which Living with Art by Mark Getlein defines as, “a 20th-century avant-garde movement in art…that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind…”
Francisco Poblet, the only student Salvador Dali ever taught, led a discussion about what it was like to work with Dali. He demonstrated how Dali and he would begin a painting (surrealism being their chosen form) and then he chose raffle winners who received prints of Poblet’s work. Poblet said that anything he has ever created he has either seen with his own eyes or came to him in a dream.
Poblet’s father and Dali were great friends, beginning when they were young and living in Spain. This was during late 1930’s Spain under Francisco Franco’s rule and through his tyranny both Poblet and Dali’s relatives were being beheaded by Franco’s army. Both families fled to New York City and roughly 11 years after Francisco’s birth, Dali saw his potential and decided to train him as his first and only student.
According to Poblet, Dali was an enigma and a genius. Poblet recalls, “Once, I was trying to fix the shadow on a painting I was working on, and Dali asked what I was doing. I told him it wasn’t perfect so I was trying to clean it up. He told me start again! It had to be perfect.”
Surrealist paintings distort the image, showing both the literal and the invisible factors that an artist “sees.” He goes on saying most artists have two or three paintings under each final version. One of the paintings he had on display in the Clay College, Crumbling Dali, depicts Dali with an intense expression and the melting clock, which Dali was most known for (The Persistence of Memory.) Over Dali’s shoulder, you can see two small men walking through Hell that are originally from the second painting he created on the canvas.
Poblet went on to demonstrate how he begins his paintings. Throughout the entire time he painted, he joked and answered questions. He started by doing a rough outline and then covering the whole canvas. The main focal points were a black sky that became a deep, dark blue and a woman whose body folded with the weight of struggle in hues of lighter blue. Poblet remained humble about his work through its “completion.”
When asked when he completed his schooling, Poblet said laughing, “I haven’t. I am still a student. I will be a student my whole life.” To this day, he travels the world teaching Surrealism and demonstrating the techniques that Dali first taught him.