An emerging style influenced by the Metaphysical art of the Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978).
Or, to give it its full title, A Mystery and Melancholy of a Street…
In 2018, I accompanied my daughter on a trip to Slovenia. Just prior to that trip I had began to research the works of de Chirico – particular those works he painted in the years between 1911 and 1930.
I felt something about the deep shadows in works like ‘A Mystery and Melancholy of a Street’ (1913), ‘The Anxious Journey’ (1913) and ‘The Enigma of a Day’ (1914) solidified, in my mind, a style that I had been – subconsciously at least – developing for several years.
Slovenia was the first opportunity I had to consciously shoot images in that style.
A style that the critic Robert Hughes described as
He resembles his more representational American contemporary, Edward Hopper: their pictures’ low sunlight, their deep and often irrational shadows, their empty walkways and portentous silences creating an enigmatic visual poetry.
Originally, my intention was that ‘Mystery and Melancholy’ would form the basis for a small, stand alone, project – it has though become more of a defining style that now influences much of my work.
In a completely unconnected way I also came across a fragment of a poem that also connected with this style:
I would say this landscape Too is a document. But What is a landscape? A procession Across the soul that thinks.
Following some research I tracked down the poem: ‘The Foggiest’ by the American poet John Ashbery (1927-2017).
Further research revealed that Ashbery may well have provided the only English language translations of di Chirico’s poems and novels and, in particular, his 1929 novel ‘Hebdomeros’
All images © W N BISHOP