Death in Illusion

My Surreal Piece

… working in both ways.

For my A-Level final piece I have created a surreal painting inspired by a Spanish artist who brought surrealism to the world of art – Salvador Dali, and also a Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. The theme I picked up to study was Death in Illusion. I wanted to study living things and show different changes in their shape and form throughout their lives. Surreal pieces requires deep thoughts and thinking “outside the box” and studying above mentoined artists helped me to develop my ideas.


I wanted to create an artwork with real objects that create an unreal situation – illusion. I picked Francisco de Goya as my inspiratuional artist as he created a dark and mysterious work with a creepy atmosphere that I like. This was a type of atmosphere I wanted to portray in my work too. Through studying him and developing his style of painting, it helped me find a technique on my own that I became very comfortable and confident using, You can see it in the picture. This technique highlights the atmosphere of death I wanted to create, in its colours and the fact that it’s dry You can clearly see the change in colour – it’s not blended in.


I noticed, during the creation of the skull, that the faces of the women didn’t reflect the teeth of the skull as much as I wanted them to when painted as ‘normal women faces’. I decided to change the shape of them to resemble more of a teeth form and to paint them in very light colours: white and grey. This made the teeth look much better and the faces became even creepier adding to the painting more and creating a better result.



The sky is blue and yellow which I think makes it all stand out. This was mostly influenced by Salvador Dali. Dali’s surreal paintings helped me to create a surrealistic background for my final piece. The fact that I wanted to create a painting which would work in both ways, figures in one way and the skull in the other, it was also important to have a background that would be as interesting and would reflect something else when turned upside-down. The fact that the main part of the painting – the skull, was painted in dark colours needed to stand out and his colours created a perfect contrast.


Salvador Dali inspired me to place the real into the unreal, so in the background, after many ideas, I decided to focus on reflection: the two animal skulls reflecting a mixture of studies I researched, such as lily-flower creatures, bones and moulded fruits such as apples and strawberries. I painted this using natural colours, warm browns, brunt sienna and cream tones, also using a smoother style compared to Goya. It was very difficult to create the reflection of the animal skulls from the objects. It required the most thought. The objects needed to be placed in the correct positions and places in order for them to work and to create the illusion.


Acrylic Paint

I was aiming to create a painting that would make people think. I think I achieved the mysterious and creepy mood I was hoping for, even though the colours of the background make it bright. I think this add to the whole illusion and deception as the objects all symbolise death and therefore the viewer has to spend some time thinking about what is going on.

“Sometimes things are different than You see them.”

– Agnieszka Matuszak


3 thoughts on “Death in Illusion

  1. Making people think is sometimes a good thing. But, creating dark or demented art does the world no good. I am not a fan of Sal’s work. I was a bit disturbed by what I’ve seen of him in film, text and a travel video featuring his odd house. And, if de Goya is the same, then I am not a fan of his, either. Among other things, I feel it it rude to use religious items in an…inappropriate…way. Artistic license should be respectful of other cultures/beliefs. But, I suppose, he was making a statement of how he hates Catholicism. It still doesn’t sit well with me. Sometimes, I think such works should be reserved for a select audience. I also don’t support public display of nude pieces.


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