Dali was a strange man. A quick glance through the Spanish surrealist’s major works proves that right away. But he was also a passionate man and sought inspiration in the world around him, especially the natural world. One of the most important points of influence for Dali was near his home in Port Lligat, Spain, Cap de Creus Natural Park.
As I walked towards the sea, the intensely bright sun revealed rocks and volcanic upheaval that could keep a geologist busy for decades. I wasn’t in Spain though, I couldn’t have been. The rugged coastline dotted with strange and robust plant life was more like Iceland or South Africa than it was Spain. And yet there I was, standing on a rock formation overlooking the Mediterranean enjoying the same view that has inspired locals for thousands of years, including most recently Salvador Dali.
Cap de Creus wasn’t just a momentary point of inspiration for Dali; it defined who he was as an artist. A young Dali spent hours walking along the rugged shore, the easternmost point in Spain, observing light, shadow and of course the strange rock formations. Geological luck has created a panoply of natural rock art that immediately causes the mind to race, trying to determine what they look like. Rabbits, panthers and birds are among the many statues that grace the parklands.
Standing high on one of the many peaks in the park, it’s hard not to imagine yourself an adventurer of old, looking towards the horizon wondering what lies beyond. It’s also hard not to feel inspired, just like Dali, to do something, anything, creative in order to capture if only for a moment the intense beauty of the primitive coast.
Walking back on my way out of the park I stopped by the many rock formations, trying to see if I saw what others clearly see. Sometimes it was a stretch, other times it was obvious but what was even more fun was to try to imagine new representations, never before considered. Also dotting the landscape like remnants of a shipwreck are iron buildings and stone foundations, the remnants of an ill conceived Club Med resort that once graced the fragile shores of Cap de Creus. I can’t imagine a greater insult to the landscape than a Club Med, but now the pieces of the luxury hotel seem to add their own story to the landscape. The iron boxes are now just another artwork in a park that has truly become a living canvas.
I’ve seen a lot of beautiful coastlines and have spent countless hours exploring nationally protected parks around the world, but there’s something different about Cap de Creus. Whether it’s the light or volcanic artwork, the park leaves an impression that’s more than lusting after a nice view. The park has a soul, a personality to it that is indeed hard to find anywhere in the world.
Do you see the shapes in these rocks?