The physiognomic theatricalism of the body in mythological constellation by Mitoraj on display at Pompeii ruins


The harmony of the form and a gravitas impregnated of a the archaic and idiosyncratic imagery accompany “the cosmos” of the plastic art signed by the late French-Polish artist Igor Mitoraj, whose twenty-eight monumental bronze sculptures from mid-May until 8th January 2017 will live together  with the architectures of the ancient ruins of Pompeii. The exhibition was conceived and promoted by the Terzo Pilastro Foundation – Italy and Mediterranean, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and organized by the Superintendence of Pompeii, from the art Gallery Contini (Venice – Cortina d’Ampezzo) and from Luca Pizzi art director of the Mitoraj Atelier Foundation (Pietrasanta.)

The artist, availing of the figurative memories of more than two thousand years ago, in enhancing the most significant ritualized acts and the mythological-erotic stigmata, composes new and autochthonous sculptural figurations inspired by ancestral images of the crucible of stories that belong to a mythical anthropology. These evocative inventions, are transformed into the matrix of “today’s stories” by the character hyper-symptomatic, that offer themselves as fragments of a metaphysical interception of modernity.

The expressive register of the aesthetic vision by Mitoraj, insists on a psychology that speaks of disorder of passions, or chaotic meditative aspect of dreams, as a perpetual light and shade of life that sees the total fusion of two psychic attitudes that often mutually exclude: the Dionysian pathos and Apollonian ethos.

The sculptural shapes, conceived in the asymmetry of disproportions, lead to unexpected results because they are worth for their formal simplicity, for their “Gestalt” and for the use which the artist makes of these symbolic architectures of the body that lead to the silence of the vision.

The artist’s psychological acuity consists in grasping and transposing in volumetric rhythms an undefined and performative Nirvana of fragmented silhouettes and physiognomic scans in suspended time.

Mitoraj, superimposing and intersecting the sequences or isolating the military characteristics or the erotic details, from these appears to originate a sort of centrifugal orgy that attracts in a ‘vortex’ around the destruction of a symbolic body, suggesting the total loss of the perspective of reference data points.

These icon-sculptures sublimate the sexual ethic of Paganism and the formulas of the archaic pathos and of the warrior nobility symbolized by Gods and by mythological heroes such as: Daedalus, The Fall of Icarus, The Centaur, The Centurion, Tindaro, Tindaro Screpolato, Hermanos or Eros Bendato. Such mythological names crystallize common values, referring  to various value-archetypes that express and celebrate the cult of the body, the exceptional heroism, the freedom, the triumph, the virtue of terror of the ancients Greek, the fight, the cruelty and the death.

 The spectator gets definitely lost in contemplating the hieratic and disembodied faces,the  bandaged and cracked visages, conceived with of narcissistic nobility and into a solipsistic vision of alienation.

Equally suggestive present themselves the decapitated shapes of the warriors on horseback who widen the empty space by cleaving the air with the Sarissa, ‘ferrea  saepes’; the dreadful sword which has often severed and dismembered heads, like trophies propped at the foot, as  we can see in the sculptures Gambe Alate and Torso of Icarus, the latter with Medusa’s head ‘a tergo’ enveloped of serpents as his crowning.

The imago mundi of the artist, in complementarity with the ancient ruins, generates a mythology of the moment and a vertical theater which give birth to a process which aims to involve in excitement and the exacerbated exhibition of the body.

The figures of angels with lacerated wings look dazzling with further body mutilations that seem to vibrate and to generate monstrous growths as they are seen in the sculpture Toscano or as in those present in the genital organs of Ikaria statue, imagined  as the sister of Icarus: an Uranic woman, connected to the sky but held to  Earth by a ‘chthonic’ hand, emerged from the depths of the natural pathways.

Such hyperbolic sculptures into identification with the exasperation of collective passions take on a symbolic function potently represented  in the sign of a mystical materialism and puts in evidence both the process of reintegration of the Olympian Gods or the exorcism and the demonization of primitive fears from the perspective of a humanism that in its entirety re-proposes the conjunction between body and spirit.

From a perceptual point view, the sensitivity of plasticizer by Mitoraj gives voice to an enchanted universe that ranges in the mythical, in the fantastic and in the sacred, it wants to be a kind of cryptic message posted by that world of larval creatures, bronze and in terracotta that, returned to live in their symbolic and romantic iconography, proclaim an invitation to wander for wounded areas of the ancient flagstone, of the domuses, of the temples and of the Thermal Baths of Pompeii, in the collective imagination still to perceived as the scorching rubbles crossed by the cold wind of the fierce ruin of the time.   

Anna Lorito



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