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Date Minted:  November 20, 2020

Artist Description: ‘Dalí’ is a collaboration between DaniellaDoodle ( and MAIKEUL ( Edition of 10. (5 editions are being sold by each artist.)

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Can’t mistake that mustache. Not that the artist would let you, what with that title. Dalí, the piece, is a self-proclaimed collaboration between artists Daniella Attfield (DaniellaDoodle) and MAIKEUL. As far as two art styles go, Attield’s and MAIKEUL’s are brilliantly complimentary. Both artists are professional decorators of the black frame, and many of their pieces consist of pencil-like drawings applied directly to an empty black background. In MAIKEUL’s case, such images are often celebrity-oriented: Buddha appears (if you can call him a celebrity) and so does Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, and Julian Assange; Putin and Popeye the Sailor are present as well. All these faces —because only the faces are ever captured— consist of squiggling, barely-logical lines that somehow, through color and sophisticated use of shading, begin to mimic the visage of MAIKEUL’s subjects. Attfield takes a slightly different approach, opting not for squiggling lines but for hyper-specific and deliberate strokes of color. She drawls with color itself, so that her compositions appear like highly-detailed Lite-Brite sketches. Of the two, MAIKEUL is probably the more singular artist, though Attfield almost certainly has the more polished aptitude for scene-capturing. Her pieces are generally more alive with environment. Coming together in Dalí, the two artists might be expected to have their unique styles blended. Interestingly, however, neither style seems completely present, and in fact, in the meeting of the two, an entirely new —though certainly still inspired by their individual careers— style emerges. One in which animation plays a key role, as does the dichotomy of white and black. There’s more abstraction on display in Dalí than in most works by either artist, as well, and the result is that we have no idea where one artist’s influence begins and another’s end. This piece could be made by a separate artist altogether, product of a different mind. Inked from the hyperspace link between the two minds, Salvador Dalí’s figure emerges as the perfect emissary of such subconscious processes. The master of surrealism shines brightly on all the unobvious ways this piece must have come together. 

The piece is, obviously, a looping animation featuring a single mobile element. There is Dali’s face looking as inquisitive and singular as ever. His eyes are pointed right at you, curious. His lips are curled downward in what one might conceivably be a sneer. His long pencil-thin mustache is twirled upwards so that it seems to merge with the man’s right eyebrow. And yet, it’s his eye which MAIKEUL and Attfield draw our attention to. The animated bit of the image, a glowing yellow ring, endlessly emerges from Dali’s pupil, growing larger and larger, expanding further and further outward, and then condensing back. I wish I had an analogue for what it looks like that’d be even halfway accurate. This is the best I’ve got: At the beginning of the first Harry Potter movie, Dumbledore walks down Privet Drive stealing the light from streetlamps using a strange handheld contraption; the lights woosh out of the lamps and into Dumbledore’s hand. It’s a very singular motion —if you know what I’m talking about, you know— and Dalí is like that over and over and over again. It’s hard to tell if the depicted artist is upset as he looks at us. Dali’s expression is odd and difficult to decipher. Perhaps he’s threatened over there with his little pointed lapel. Behind him, instead of the standard black background one might expect, a smattering of abstract yellow shapes, like globs of squished paint, twitters in a grand, seemingly-random pattern, like a blooming field of sunflowers. And still the ring of yellow light pulses. And still Dali’s mustache remains upright. And still he looks out at us, with an expression I still can’t seem to decode.

It’s the eye of the artist that the two creators of the piece have decided to focus on —and encourage us to focus on— so it’s the eye of the artist I’ll focus on here. I’m tempted to say that’s fitting for an artist with as unique an eye as Dali himself had, but perhaps that’s not so accurate; much of Dali’s artistry came from the strange oddities he’d stumble onto in his dreams, so perhaps it wasn’t his eye at all which was doing as much work as his sleepy brain. But still, this is the euphemism we as a species tend to use to exalt our visual artists. “What an incredible eye they have!” Just as musicians are said to have an incredible ear, and writers are…well, we don’t have very many euphemisms for writers, do we? It’s Dali’s eye which made him special, and what is artistry at all but the ability one body has to distill the images from one’s mind into the visual realm? Hand-eye coordination, but lifted to some spectral, spiritual plane. And perhaps like Dali’s actual eye, the seeking vision of the artist is unceasing here in Dalí. It’s curious that this piece would be animated despite animation never much appearing in either artist’s oeuvre. But it’s a brilliant way to recreate the idealized artist’s ever-searching quest for a subject, for inspiration, for a fresh face it can turn itself upon, though in a glare or a leer or an encouraging stare we can’t know. I’ve been looking at this image for quite a while, and still I’ve no idea.

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