His style of painting was metaphysical, seeking to overcome the appearance of reality. It was also a style that reflected his fascination with the classics. The exhibition presents all the great themes of the Pictor Optimus: his metaphysical exteriors (Italy’s town squares and towers); his mannequins, his disturbing muses and his archaeologists. Also on display are examples of his still lifes – or silent lifes, as de Chirico liked to call them – horses, copies or free interpretations of great masters such as Raphael and Perugino, as well as the famous self-portraits in period clothes in the style of Rubens or Velázquez. This is an exhibition that is also a journey, an eternally cyclical journey in search of self and beauty.
“Giorgio de Chirico. Il volto della metafisica”
30 March – 1 September, 2019
piazza Matteotti 9, Genova
The intent of the exhibition – supports curator Victoria Noel-Johnson – is to promote the interpretation of a continuous metaphysics, also supported by the scholar Maurizio Calvesi, where the whole de Chirico corpus, despite the variations of style, technique, subject, composition and color tone, is to be considered metaphysical. De Chirico’s works, influenced by the philosophy of the late nineteenth century and in particular by Nietzsche, explore the reversal of time and space, with illogical perspectives and shadows, often using dépaysement, meaningless juxtapositions of common objects in unexpected environments. The poet-philosopher offers the observer an enigmatic world, which transforms everyday life and the banality of things into revelation, allowing the metaphysical side of reality to be discovered.
In this sense, the works from 1919 onwards, both portraits and nudes and still lifes and landscapes, not only represent the fruits of his research on pictorial technique, but also constitute a remarkable development of his interpretation of metaphysics. He makes copies of ancient works, inserts references to the works of the great masters of the past or other of his own works: it is an uninterrupted exploration of cyclical time, where the past and the present coexist on the same plane in a sort of eternal Nietzschean return . Writing to Guillaume Apollinaire in 1916, de Chirico tells how the Greek philosopher Heraclitus teaches us that time does not exist and on the great curve of eternity the past is equal to the future.
The exhibition therefore prefers a structure divided by themes: the journey and the return, with works such as The Wandering Jew of 1917, Ulysses (Self-Portrait) of 1922, Return of Ulysses of 1968; the world of metaphysical exteriors, one of the most recognizable themes of dechirich art, with urban panoramas (the squares of Italy, the towers), and mysterious baths, recounted in the exhibition through the illustrations made for Mythologie by Jean Cocteau of 1934. But also the figures, the troubadours, the mythological characters, the disturbing muses and the archaeologists. And again the metaphysical interiors, the nature also metaphysical, with still lifes or silent lives, and finally the tradition, with the various portraits that allude to fourteenth and sixteenth-century portraiture, the famous self-portraits inspired by Rubens or Velasquez, and again the copies and free interpretations of works by the great masters such as Durer, Watteau, Courbet, Renoir, Raphael and Perugino.
A remarkable exhibition, therefore, which also marks the return to Genoa of Giorgio de Chirico after 25 years from the last exhibition, and which allows us to reconstruct the entire career of the pictor optimus.