Cultural critic and society guru Stephen Bayley has described a visit to the Estorick Collection, London as the most civilised thing one can do north of the river. This eclectic show takes a broad look at Italian creativity and the encounters between ancient and modern; unearthing Roman ruins from the port of Ostia, Italy (many of which have never been seen in the UK); importing the sculpture of 20th century Italian master Umberto Mastroianni and commissioning contemporary paintings from Ettore De Conciliis.
Ostia, once an Ancient Roman sea port at the mouth of the River Tiber, is today a precious archaeological site. Amongst the fragments on display are sculptures of the Roman gods and emperors, including a cheery, though legless, second to third century AD bearded Silvanus, the god of forests, clutching sprigs of flowers and fruit. Look out for the delightful mosaic of doves.
Alongside the treasures of Ostia are the specially commissioned paintings by Ettore De Conciliis, one of Italy’s leading contemporary painters. These lyrical pictures combine De Conciliis’s longstanding interest in nature with a wistful look at the ancient ruins in situ, illuminated by moonlight in ‘Temple of Hercules, Evening’ (2012).
The final artist included, Umberto Mastroianni (who fought in the Italian resistance), is decidedly ostentatious about being modern. Known as one of the 20th century Italy’s leading sculptors, Mastroianni combined the aesthetic of Marcel Duchamp’s cubism and Umberto Boccioni’s futurism in his work. Highlights include the sculpture ‘Savage Fury’ (1975), in jagged ochre, and ‘Ida’s Dream’ (1984), which combines a keen eye for colour and abstract forms with notes of surrealism.
The ultimate message of the show must be related to time, and how art is both rooted in it and can overcome it – like the ancient stones in De Conciliis’s Temple of Hercules, or the broken busts now standing in Islington. This is more than enough of an excuse to make the journey up to Canonbury Square.
|What||Roman Ostia: Ancient Ruins, Modern Art, Estorick Collection|
|Where||Estorick Collection, 39a Canonbury Square , London , N1 2AN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Highbury & Islington (underground)|
24 Sep 14 – 21 Dec 14, 12:00 AM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for more information|