The Portrait

A Serigraph by Kenneth Michael Zeran

The serigraph series “Dali!” by the American artist Kenneth Michael Zeran is a striking suite of portraits that capture intense emotional genius at work in the great Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali.

What makes the work all the more interesting is the provenance behind the art; the interactivity between the artist and subject. Zeran and Dali met in the early 1970’s in New York. The subject of sports brought the two creative forces together. Zeran recalled, “The engagement was immediate. I wanted to discuss the subject of sports with Sr. Dali. I thought that would be very interesting. I had recently done this with Andy Warhol.”

“I brought along a painting I had done on the subject. It was abstract, lots of ultramarine blue with smeared white football player-like figures streaming through outer space. Dali loved it. I think the entire subject was novel for him. He was very animated and loquacious. He spoke in partial phrases of English through a breathy hoarse-like oratory with an abundance of hand gestures to go along with punctuating head movements. Everything was a concert of expression. We went back and forth in the discussion. It was fun. I specifically recall being taken by his genius delivered through a touch of child-like innocence and excitement.”

“He took a pen to a napkin from the St. Regis Hotel (home to himself, Gala, and the ocelots), and began doodling and suddenly had to leave. Just like a child running off to play.”

“The next time we spoke, Dali asked me to attend an opening at M. Knoedler & Co. for a one-man exhibition of his work. Was I surprised! There it was. ‘Basketball Players Being Transformed into Angels’, a hologram with a painting on a three dimensional surface. So I took a photograph of Dali with the artwork. With an almost predestined serendipitous fate the photograph captured the same wild intensity that characterized the Dali I knew. It would become the study for the art series “Dali!” In the gallery that evening was the renowned artist LeRoy Neiman, noted for his paintings of the sports world. How fitting the two of them standing next to Dali’s angelic basketball players posing for me- two great mustaches!”

“I made an early serigraph from the image. Dali loved it. The serigraph ‘Dali in the Graphic Process of Becoming Salvadored’ was exhibited at a one-man show given for me at the prestigious Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, a block from the Metropolitan Museum in New York.”

“I met with Dali many times thereafter. He liked my images of him and would sign them with gusto. The last time I saw Dali was memorable. We were talking about Picasso. Dali loved his fellow countryman. After that conversation Dali sailed back to Europe (a rite of spring for him). On Sunday morning April 8th I woke to the news that Picasso had died. Everything I remember with Dali had some special significance. I knew that one day I would do something really grand with that image.”

The image to which Zeran was referring is the current serigraph series “Dali!” The original artwork is a 48” X 48” painting of black enamel, gold, silver, and copper leaf on a riotous background of thick textures on Belgian linen canvas. A very rich Spanish treasured treatment.

The ensuing serigraph series is a suite of four-color combinations relating in tone and temperature transporting the viewer through the different personalities of Dali. Printed by the artist himself, the hand signed series is on water marked museum quality Arches paper with deckle edge.

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