Monday, August 31, 2009

#9 Dream (Homage to Salvador Dalí)

Charcoal on Mylar drafting film, 12 x 24".

A surrealistic impression of John Lennon's murder.

For the drawing, I've used a reference photo of the Charter Arms .38 revolver the police confiscated at the scene of the crime, tagged as shown in the photo. The butterflies, white lily, and stormy backdrop are from my own references I took on recent vacations. The flower placed inside the gun barrel is reminiscent of 1967's “Flower Power,” photo by Bernard Norman, showing a long-haired antiwar protester shoving carnations into the gun barrels of MPs during an anti-Vietnam protest at the Pentagon. The caterpillar and butterflies are symbols of the earthly life, spirit, and transformation in the afterlife, and were often used by artist Salvador Dalí.

Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980, shot four times in the back.

In 1979, Lennon's assassin (nameless, as Yoko requested) began drinking heavily and developed an obsession for contemporary art. He bought numerous items of art, including a Salvador Dali, amassing a debt that was becoming way out of control. He began reading with an insatiable appetite, especially “The Catcher in The Rye.” He often interpreted lyrics as if they had been written especially for him. #9 Dream from Lennon's "Walls & Bridges" album was a special song for John - some say the strange and haunting lyrics of #9 Dream are John's premonition of his own death. According to John, the foreign-sounding phrase "Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé." doesn't mean is just a phrase that came to him in a dream and he decided to base a song around it.

As I was drawing from the storm landscape reference photo, I noticed a vague dark spout along the horizon. There was a tornado touchdown this past July during the storm I had photographed while we were driving, skirting the eye of the storm near Galena, Illinois. I'm not sure if I had captured the funnel's beginning, but I emphasized the funnel effect in my drawing. The sense of impending doom was strong that afternoon and it matches my unease in the current climate in the states.

My motivation for drawing this piece is the surge in gun sales since U.S. President Obama was elected, just one of the many issues in the current American landscape. "It's simply paranoia," said Thomas Mannard of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. "And it's irresponsible, from my point of view, to be touting how wonderful this is. More guns definitely equal more death."

Mr. Lennon still inspires.

I have a dream...

#9 Dream

So long ago
Was it in a dream, was it just a dream?
I know, yes I know
Seemed so very real, it seemed so real to me

Took a walk down the street
Thru the heat whispered trees
I thought I could hear (hear, hear, hear)
Somebody call out my name, as it started to rain

Two spirits dancing so strange

Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé
Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé
Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé

Dream, dream away
Magic in the air, was magic in the air?
I believe, yes I believe
More I cannot say, what more can I say?

On a river of sound
Thru the mirror go round, round
I thought I could feel (feel, feel, feel)
Music touching my soul, something warm, sudden cold
The spirit dance was unfolding

Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé
Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé
Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé

Lyrics, by John Lennon

The butterfly wings along the flower stem are after this painting by Salvador Dalí:


Susie McMahon said...


Alice McMahon White said...

Thank you Susie! I forgot to write that there was an actual tornado touchdown during the storm I photographed near Galena Illinois. As I was drawing, I noticed a vague dark spout in my photo - not sure if I had captured the funnel's beginning - but the sense of impending doom was strong that afternoon. Matches my constant unease in the current climate in the states. I emphasized the funnel in the drawing.

Karen Appleton said...

I love this combination of the butterflies, lily, gun, and especially love the caterpillar on the gun. Great symbolism!

Alice McMahon White said...

Thank you Karen. I was hesitant to add the caterpillar, but I’ve been meaning to add one to the series for some time and it never quite fit into earlier pieces. I was unsure of where to place it in the drawing and the gun just seemed to be best, a reference to the earthly world and the gunman himself.

Anonymous said...

What is the name of the Dali painting?

Alice McMahon White said...

Sorry xbo - I can't find that information.

Unknown said...

is the painting with the yellow rose and butterfly stems an official salvador dali painting or one of yours?