Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Giorgio de Chirico and Greece: Voyage through Memory

The Onassis Cultural Center presented Giorgio de Chirico and Greece: Voyage through Memory, an exhibition of works by major European artist Giorgio de Chirico, which opened on October 31, 2007. Organized by the Giorgio and Isa de Chirico Foundation in Rome and the Athinais Cultural Centre in Athens, this presentation of 35 of the artist’s metaphysical paintings and sculptures, as well as 22 drawings and lithographs are drawn from the artist’s late period of work. Throughout his life de Chirico maintained a personal and academic interest in Hellenic culture.

Born in Volos, Greece in 1888 to Italian parents, he went on to study at the Athens Polytechnic and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. His debut in the art world took place in Paris in 1912. Most commonly known for having inspired Surrealism, de Chirico’s work also adopted Neo-Baroque influences. His bond with ancient Greece harmonized with his appreciation of classical Italian art. The extremely innovate imagery of the 35 paintings and sculptures featured evoke the artist’s memories and reveal his poetic vision, demonstrating the inspiration he found in both cultures as well as his role in defining a different, modern reality.

Voyage through Memory presents his artistic reflections on Greek tradition, history, philosophy and aesthetics, fitting the Onassis Cultural Center’s mission to engage and educate the public about the universal ideals of Greek civilization. It is said that de Chirico’s first painting was inspired by the horses he saw in his birthplace of Volos. The focus of horses later developed into a recurring theme for the artist, represented in the exhibition by the painting The Painter of Horses and his Ancient Horses, a bronze sculpture of horses standing in the wind. De Chirico was profoundly influenced by Greek mythology, of which he portrayed the Argonauts, Titans, Centaurs and Olympian Gods.

An excerpt from the artist’s memoirs expresses his affinity to this land, “…all of those spectacles of exceptional beauty that I saw in Greece as a boy, and that are the most beautiful I have ever seen to this day, affected me so deeply, they were so powerfully impressed in my soul and in my thoughts…”

De Chirico’s neometaphysical work is another important exhibition theme and is exemplified by paintings such as

Harmony of Solitude

and The Tower

as well as the sculpture The Great Metaphysician, creations which evoke the mystery of space and time in the unique environment he created.

Giorgio de Chirico and Greece: Voyage through Memory,
curated by art critic and theorist Takis Mavrotas, it was originally presented at the Athinais Cultural Centre in Athens, Greece.

The exhibition was on view from October 31, 2007 – January 6, 2008 at the Onassis Cultural Center.

Giorgio de Chirico, The Archaeologists, 1968, Oil on canvas, 84,5 X 64,5 cm. Signed lower right G. de Chirico 1968. © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome. © Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico, Rome. Inv. 94