Monday, October 01, 2012

A de Chirico moment

click photo to enlarge
Recently, walking through a small paved area that has a row of fairly new shops, I had what I can only describe as a "de Chirico" moment. I briefly felt that I'd stepped out of my everyday existence into the scuola metafisica world of the noted Greek/Italian painter, Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978). This quite unnerving experience was prompted by the sight of a casual assemblage of items propped up against the front of a virtually empty shop that bore a number of "closed" and "closing down" signs. The cracked tailor's mannequin, hoops and wall cupboards/shelves (?) in the clean, deserted space had a look of the unsettling surreal paintings of incongruous objects in architectural scenes with which de Chirico made his name. All that was missing were his deep shadows that the overcast English sky was unable to manufacture.

I took my photographs and as we walked on I reflected further, wondering whether the collection of redundant pieces had been placed there in a deliberate way, but I concluded they probably hadn't. In a blog post of 2008 I pondered on the concept of "found poems" - poetry that is found and extracted from prose that was written for non-poetic purposes. This assemblage seemed to me the artistic equivalent: "found sculpture" perhaps. The use of everyday objects in art has a long history but in terms of "found" articles didn't become mainstream until the "readymades" of the French artist, Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) achieved widespread acceptance.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On