A Surrealistic Revival

Published on December 22, 2015 by Phoenix in Antiquities, Phoenix Ancient Art

The Carlyle Hotel has certainly been the heart of the revival of Surrealism as of late.

Phoenix Ancient Art

Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity

While the Di Donna gallery just closed the “Fields of Dream: The Surrealist Landscape, ” the Helly Nahmad Gallery is still featuring “Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity” until January 30th. The exhibit has been created around 22 Giorgio de Chirico paintings from the 1920s. What makes the exhibit so unique is the juxtaposition of these paintings with 40 antiques from Phoenix Ancient Art. The Greek and Roman antiquities are paired with the paintings to touch on similar themes.

As The New York Times writer Roberta Smith describes it,

“Rosy-skinned gladiators, wrestlers and soldiers in togas and occasionally helmets prevail here, along with bearded philosophers. The young men are in pairs and groups fighting, hanging out in classical settings or promenading with horses whose opulent tails and manes evoke both Delacroix and My Pretty Ponies. There’s often a homoerotic buzz in the air, and a comic-heroic one, too. These dismayed the Surrealists, along with de Chirico’s fluctuating, exploratory paint-handling, an array of feathery or squiggly strokes that merge Impressionism, Rococo and cartooning.”

The pairing of these dramatic paintings with the antiques from Phoenix Ancient Art is both bold and unusual. Examples of antiques on display include a Geometric Period bronze horse, Roman mosaics, Hellenistic statuettes and more. The realized Greco-Roman pieces balance out the Surrealistic appeal of de Chirico’s work. As Smith writes, “They reflect the ebb and flow across the Greco-Roman world of the real and the ideal, the sophisticated and the provincial.”

The show is named for Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory and memory is certainly a key theme of the exhibit. The exhibit pays homage to Mnemosyne and to the art of memory, as it introduces viewers to pieces from times gone by. As two worlds converge in “Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity,” viewers will be in for a treat and a lesson in seeing and interpreting art from a different lens.