|Courtesy of www.dalipaintings.com|
Side by side with works characterized by a smooth, almost crystalline surface, Dali produced paintings in which the brushwork is loose and the treatment of surface detail summary. The sketchy Man with the Head of Blue Hortensias belongs to a group of paintings in which Dali exploited the non-finito of landscape and figural motifs to encourage the viewer's faculties of projection and free association. Dali in effect sets this process in motion by establishing a double image in the form of a seated man in the lower right-hand corner whose head can alternately be read as bowed or upright (the cavity in the rock formation behind him forms the secondary image). In disturbing figure/ground relationships Dali once again challenges the ocular and logocentric perspective of the viewer.
Art critics has suggested that Dali was inspired by the nineteenth-century Catalan landscape painter Ramon Marti i Alsina, whose works were much admired by the Catalan bourgeoisie. If this is the case - and it should be noted that the Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli has also been proposed as a source for Dali's choppy, circular brushwork - the artist has transformed Marti i Alsina's sentimental regionalist vision into a disturbing paranoiac landscape.' Dali's approach can only be described as ironic, given the contempt he publicly expressed for Catalan regionalist painting.