Blog

Paul Perry Interview on Dali’s Great Secret, Villas & Golfe Magazine, May 2017

See the original blog post article on Dali’s Painting – here

Paul Perry – “I have the curiosity gene”

Paul Perry Interview, Villas & Golfe Magazine, May 2017

Text:  Maria Cruz (com a colaboração de Tiago Feijóo),  Photography: Direitos Reservados

Author of four New York Times bestsellers, and maker of documentaries such as Afterlife, The Lost Years, and Dali’s Greatest Secret, Perry belongs to the Order of Saint Michael of the Wing (OSMA), Portugal’s oldest order of chivalry. He has always seen journalism as the perfect job. As an editor in some of America’s most prestigious magazines, throughout his career he has chosen the path of uncovering great mysteries. «Mystery is what makes the world exiting and what makes life worth living», stresses Perry.

Paul Perry with Nicolas Descharnes, Dee Perry, Amanda Lear, Dali Head, Duke of Braganza
L-From left to right: Nicolas Descharnes, Dee Perry (wife of Paul Perry), Amanda Lear, Paul Perry and replica of Vision of Hell, C-Paul Perry and Dalí, R-Paul Perry with Duke of Braganza, Photography: Direitos Reservados

What led you to produce the documentary, Dali’s Fatima Secret? (In the United States the name is Dali’s Greatest Secret)

I have what I jokingly call “the curiosity gene” because I was born with a curiosity about everything. That is especially true of art. A great artist can take your mind to places it never would have gone on its own. That’s how I felt when I first saw Dali’s painting Vision of Hell. It was filled with imagery that I could not have conceived on my own, very powerful images of a hell itself and various scenarios for getting there, like war and hate, all of which lead to the destruction of the soul. I could see this imagery immediately upon looking at this magnificent painting and I had to know why Dali had used so much of his power to imagine on a painting that he was hired to paint. Usually he would not put so much effort into a work for hire like this was. But something had truly happened in producing this painting. He had become a believer in hell and that would make him a believer in heaven, too. I wanted to know what had happened – why he had become transformed – and that was when I decided that the story of Dali and this painting had to be told.

In general terms, what is this documentary about?

This documentary is the untold story of artist Salvador Dali and the ways in which his painting, Vision of Hell, had a profound effect on his life and work. It is a painting of one of the religious visions seen by three children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, one hundred years ago this month! The painting was completed in 1962 and came at a time when he was deeply concerned about his death and was openly concerned about his mortality. He considered being cloned or even frozen  in hopes of being resurrected decades later as a means of achieving at least some form of immortality. But as he worked on the Vision of Hell, he found himself being drawn back to his religious roots. In researching this film we found that he kept his new found devotion from most people so he would not lose his intellectual and anti-church reputation. As much as anything, Dali’s Fatima Secret is about something we all dream of, everlasting life. And because he kept his transformation back to the Catholic Church such a secret, this film is a significant addition to Dali’s biography.  I am very proud of it for that reason, but not that alone. This film is an artistic and journalistic achievement!

How else did Dali’s life change as a result of this painting?

The organization that commissioned the painting, a Catholic apostolate known as The Blue Army, ultimately hid the painting underneath a nun’s bed at their headquarters in New Jersey. Dali didn’t know that the painting had been hidden and didn’t seem to care. He had painted religious paintings for many years, but after Vision of Hell was completed in 1962, the number of religious paintings he created increased substantially. There is even one painting that hangs in the Vatican’s Papal Art Galley that was painting at the same time as Vision of Hell and was clearly inspired from the same well of creative thought.  The painting is called The Trinity and it’s quite risqué for a religious institution.

But you asked how his life changed as a result of this painting. We found many photos of Dali going to Mass after this painting was completed. Often times he would sneak out of his home with his eccentric wife Gala and attend Mass in secret. In fact the former mayor of Cadaques, Spain near Port Lligat where Dali lived half the year said that Dali started going to Mass at the Church of Santa Maria on a daily basis, often times with the mayor himself. It’s hard to believe that Dali could have such a secret life, but he did according to many who lived this secret with him.

Dali's 'The Vision of Hell'
Dali’s ‘The Vision of Hell’, Photography: Direitos Reservados

Where is Vision of Hell currently on display?

Well it’s not under a nun’s bed, I can tell you that! They forgot that the painting was under the nun’s bed, if you can believe that! It was a nun who discovered it, sealed in the wooden box Dali had made for it, when she was cleaning the nun’s quarters. Another nun – an art lover – realized it was truly a Dali and she went to the man who commissioned it, John Haffert, and he told her the story of the painting. When news began to spread about this lost work of Dali’s, the painting was displayed in a touring exhibit of Dali’s work and then returned to The Blue Army. In 2008 it was put on sale by The Blue Army and purchased by a private art collector in Connecticut. It hangs in his private gallery and is occasionally loaned to museum exhibits. It is a magnificent piece of art. I see new and different images every time I look at it. Dali was not only a master of the canvas, but of the subconscious as well.

This movie has won several awards (Madrid Film Festival, Berlin International, Nevada Film Festival) what does that mean to you?

It means that we captured the genius and subconscious thoughts of Salvador Dali. Those are very powerful and difficult things to capture, especially from such an illusive subject as Dali. I think what it means is best summed up by Cardinal Monezemolo of Spain who watched the film in San Marino with me, the film’s associate producers, and several members of European royalty. “You have captured lightning in a bottle,” he said. That is a very difficult thing to do and it makes me – and us, because an entire crew was involved –  very proud to have done such a thing.

And how about Fatima? What is your relationship to Fatima? And what does the message of Fatima mean to you?

I have to be honest about Fatima. Initially I wasn’t fond of it. It was too new and modern and it seemed so much more commercial than other pilgrimage sites I have visited. But I have returned to Fatima many times since I first went there to work on the story of the painting. And every time I have grown to love it more. And I have become more accepting of the fact that it is so modern because it has to be: Fatima happened only 100 years ago, which is modern in the world of miracles and pilgrim sites. Plus I have some very good friends there, including Carlos Evaristo, who is not only a television star in Portugal, he is also an expert in the history of holy relics, which is the subject of our next film. And of course the Duke of Braganza, whose knowledge has the kind of depth that only royalty can provide. There is so much in Portugal itself that is new to my American eyes. When ever I come there I experience a world that is new to me, and one I can’t help but explore.

In a few days the Pope will visit Fatima. What would you tell him about the painting that inspired Dali’s Fatima Secret.

Well, you don’t get much time with the pope, so I would speak direct and quickly. I would tell him that Sister Lucia saw a photo of the painting in 1997 and told her interpreter that Dali had represented Hell as closely as is humanly possible. “To me that makes the painting itself a religious vision, a source of transformative power,” I would say. Then I would give him a copy of the film. He too has the curiosity gene, so who knows where that would take him….

Villa & Golfe MagazineRead the Interview Article in ‘Villas & Golfe’ Magazine

Read the Source Article in ‘Villas & Golfe’  

Click below to WATCH the Video trailer to Dali’s Greatest Secret

VIEW TRAILER

Click to RENT or PURCHASE the DVD Movie.

ON VIMEO ON AMAZON

Dali’s Great Secret in Villas & Golfe Magazine, May 2017

Here is the May 2017 Article on Dali’s Great Secret from European “Villas & Golfe” Magazine.  See my interview here.

Dali’s Great Secret

Text:  Maria Cruz (com a colaboração de Tiago Feijóo),  Photography: Direitos Reservados

At the age of 55 years (1959), Salvador Dalí – the Spanish surrealist – found himself spiritually trapped between atheism and belief in God (his father was an atheist and his mother a catholic), to the point where he wrote in his autobiography «Heaven is to be found exactly in the centre of the bosom of the man who has faith». «At this moment I do not yet have faith, and I fear I shall die without heaven», he added. At the time, Salvador Dalí was invited by John Haffert, co-founder and director of the World Apostolate of Fátima (also known as the Blue Army) to paint an image of the first vision seen in 1917 by the shepherd children of Fátima. And the work, painted on canvas, The Vision of Hell, later became part of the history of humanity.

The Vision of Hell painting over Dali
Photo-Shopped: The Vision of Hell over the painting of Dalí, Photography: Direitos Reservados

Painting this work meant that Dalí spent some time with canon José Galamba, and, afterwards, he spoke with Sister Lúcia, the only shepherd child alive at that time. Following this time spent in Fátima, Dalí became more religious. According to the words of Nicolas Descharnes, an expert in Dalí, he converted, but «hid it from people in his circle», and only his nearest and dearest (his wife and his aristocrat friends) knew of this. This was Dalí’s Secret. Proof of this can be seen in the constant increase, about 400%, in religious works created by the painter, after having finished The Vision of Hell in 1962. Dalí portrayed the vision using the account and the memories of Sister Lúcia, and, in its final form, the painting gained in colour and power. «The difficulty he had in painting this vision shows the massive importance of the painting», said Carlos Evaristo, Fátima historian and president of the Fundação Histórica Cultural Oureana in Fátima, at that time, founded by John Haffert to study the history of Portugal.

Dalí presents the final painting to Father Colgan
Dalí presents the final painting to Father Colgan, Photography: Direitos Reservados

When Dalí was welcomed by José Galamba, he was so excited that he told him: «Imagine, the earth opened up right here and the children saw hell». After his meeting with Sister Lúcia, Dalí confessed to Father José. Subsequently he returned to Port Lligat, in Spain, where he painted, in secret, The Vision of Hell. But nobody saw the painting until it was presented to Monsignor Harold Colgan, founder of the Blue Army, and there is an image (image 1) that portrays this moment in which Dalí, wide-eyed, is looking at the priest’s face, who is surprised by what he sees. This was how this painting was received. Few were those who liked the painting at the Sanctuary of Fátima. As the painting didn’t attract much attention, Haffert hung the work in his office in New Jersey, later in the apostolate and after that in the Blue Army in New Jersey, where he placed it under the bed of a nun. There it lay forgotten for almost 30 years, until it was discovered in 1997, and, a few years later, was sold to an art collector. Dalí divided his life between art friends and those he went to church with. This is how it became Dalí’s Greatest Secret.

Only in 2012, when Paul Perry began researching the painting, did the meaning of the work and Dalí’s Secret come to light. As Perry explained when interviewed, which you can read later in this report, «It was surprising to see that so many people were expecting hell to appear an attractive place». But Perry didn’t just stop there. He started researching on the effect of this work on Dalí and documented, in film, some of the events, through testimonies of people, still living, who knew the artist, while consulting the Blue Army and the archives of John Haffert. The filmmaker used some photos that had been supplied to him, in which you can see Dalí attending church. The result of the painting The Vision of Hell brings us to the image of fear, of hope, of anguish and of mystery. The presence of the Blessed Virgin in the top right corner of the work transmits purity, peace, in the heart of hell. Considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, Dalí found God almost by chance.

Villa & Golfe MagazineRead the Source Article in ‘Villas & Golfe’  

Read my interview about the painting

Click below to WATCH the Video trailer to Dali’s Greatest Secret

VIEW TRAILER

Click to RENT or PURCHASE the DVD Movie.

ON VIMEO ON AMAZON

All You Need Is Love

All You Need Is Love

God-and-the-Afterlife-On-Sale-Image

Several years ago I brought Doctors Jeffrey Long and Raymond Moody together in New Orleans to film AFTERLIFE, a documentary film about Near-Death Experiences. I chose this ever-strange city for metaphorical reasons: it had just had a near-death experience at the hands of a hurricane named Katrina. While filming some b-roll, these leaders in the field of near-death studies began talking about the place of overwhelming love during NDEs, and other marvels that happen on the other side. In honor of the publication of our new book, God and the Afterlife, I want to share what Jeff and Raymond had to say.

PURCHASE