A Feast for the Eyes: de Chirico & Phoenix Ancient Art

Certainly, anyone who was privy to be at the recent exhibit at the Helly Nahmad Gallery called “Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity,” will tell you what a fantastic experience it was. The exhibit ran through January 30th before moving to Gstaad for a short viewing. The unusual exhibit was built around 22 paintings from Giorgio de Chirico from his 1920s period. They were juxtaposed alongside 40 examples of Greek and Roman antiquities from Phoenix Ancient Art with brothers Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam.

As Roberta Smith describes in her piece entitled “A Sumptuous Surrealist Moment in Manhattan,” in The New York Times, “White marble sculptures of melancholy, reclining goddesses often preside over de Chirico’s deep-shadowed piazzas of the 1910s. But as the Nahmad show indicates, in the 1920s, the artist, who was born in Greece and spent some of his childhood there, turned to figures of flesh and bone. Rosy-skinned gladiators, wrestlers and soldiers in togas and occasionally helmets prevail here, along with bearded philosophers.”

He continues by saying,

“The Phoenix antiquities give de Chirico fierce competition. Stretching from Geometric Period bronze horses to Roman mosaics, they include several impressive Hellenistic statuettes. They reflect the ebb and flow across the Greco-Roman world of the real and the ideal, the sophisticated and the provincial.”

The show was a feast for the eyes and a fantastic challenge to the normal order of how art is displayed. Kudos to The Helly Nahmad Gallery, to Giorgio de Chirico and to Phoenix Ancient Art.

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