Paintings dominated by sparkling / glimmering nakedness, skeletons involved in religious scenes. Paul Delvaux’s exhibitions aroused many scandals, such as Ostenda’s exhibition in 1962, which will definitely establish the artist’s success on the international scene, forbidden to underage visitors. Or the Biennale di Venezia in 1954 in which the patriarch, then pope Giovanni XXIII, prohibited to priests the excess of a painting that may have disturbed them.
Enchanter of the unconscious, fascinating strategist of dream atmospheres, Delvaux was inspired by two artists who he considered to be his mentors: Giorgio de Chirico, the metaphysical guiding light for the surrealists, and René Magritte, together with Delvaux the greatest Belgian painter of the XX century. “I was looking for the source that could make me discover myself. I was looking for it in other people. This was the reason why I made expressionist painting. I’ve made paintings like Ensor. But there was another thing I wanted to find out: it was in that moment I discovered Giorgio de Chirico, and it was just De Chirico that, suddenly, put me on the right way.” These words introduce Paul Delvaux, the main character of the Surrealist season, the avant-garde movement born in 1924 from the artistic manifesto of André Breton; Surrealism raises sleep to a state of consciousness and reality, and Sigmund Freud was the unaware prophet. “Pure psychic automatism that can be used in order to express the real functioning of thought, where any other control of our intellect is absent, away from any esthetical and moral worries.”
This artistic dimension is investigated in the new exhibition at the Fondazione Magnani Rocca, “Delvaux and Surrealism”, from the 23rd March to the 30th June 2013, curated by Stefano Roffi with the Musée d’Ixelles-Bruxelles. The enigma, perfectly surreal, of a possible “subscription” of the artist to the surrealist movement (he denied it, by so contradicting an evident obviousness) is the main theme of the exhibition itself which, with a selection of 80 works thematically divided (landscape, the enigma of the railway, the feminine mystery, couples, classicism, skeletons) offers also a confrontation with the works of surrealist painters such as Magritte, Max Ernst, Man Ray and the great De Chirico; with them he takes part to the 1938 “Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme” in Paris, which was one of the most surprising artistic meeting of the XX century; before, he was very stricken by the works he saw at the exhibition “Minotaure” in 1934, held at the Palais des Beaux- Arts in Bruxelles.
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