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De Chirico at Castel del Monte

The Labyrinth of the Soul

Giorgio de Chirico a Castel del Monte. Il labirinto dell’anima
17 April – 28 August 2011
Castel de Monte, Andria, Apulia
Curated by: Victoria Noel-Johnson and Michela Tocci
Organisation: Alef – Cultural Project Management, Milan

De Chirico at Castel del Monte: The Labyrinth of the Soul is more than just a classic exhibition for the visitor: it is ametaphysical experience. Set within the labyrinthine walls of Castel del Monte, the extraordinary octagonal structure commissioned by Emperor Frederick II, it provides a suggestive and thought-provoking architectural setting for de Chirico’s work: a continuous interplay between the metaphysical labyrinths alluded to in the artist’s paintings and the Castle’s surrounding labyrinth-like structure. The 20 works (paintings and sculptures) by de Chirico which are on show are placed in four ground-floor rooms and central courtyard. They feature single or coupled protagonists who are portrayed in full metaphysical meditation and reflection, often isolated in claustrophobic rooms or in illogical architecture settings.  Such interiors enjoy a continual yet fascinating dialogue with the exterior (windows or open doorways which lead onto a piazza-square or a landscape; the sea or forest which appear within a room; the presence of a blackboard which contains constellation markings) and vice versa with the exterior containing interior elements.  The concept of Logic is turned on its head in de Chirico’s metaphysical world. The Wanderer must navigate the meanders of the Universe by means of a compass, or rather metaphysical contemplation. The main objective behind Giorgio de Chirico at Castel del Monte: The Labyrinth of the Soul is to create a metaphysical experience that allows the visitor to lose himself and explore such a Universe, only to find himself once again – within both de Chirico’s works and the Castle’s walls: a ‘metaphysical’ labyrinth placed within an actual labyrinth.

Metaphysical Interior with Head of Mercury, 1960s The Tower, late 1960s The Contemplator, 1976