Mystery and Melancholy of a Street is an emerging style influenced by the Metaphysical art of the Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978).
One critic described de Chirico work as resembling that of his contemporary, Edward Hopper:
their pictures’ low sunlight, their deep and often irrational shadows, their empty walkways and portentous silences creating an enigmatic visual poetry… Robert Hughes
Something about the deep shadows in works like ‘A Mystery and Melancholy of a Street’ (1913), ‘The Anxious Journey’ (1913), The Red Tower (1913) and ‘The Enigma of a Day’ (1914) solidified a style that had been – subconsciously at least – developing for several years.
In 2018, a trip to Slovenia was the first opportunity to more consciously shoot images in the style of those works that de Chirico painted in the years between 1911 and 1930.
Originally, the intention was that ‘Mystery and Melancholy’ would form the basis for a small, stand alone, project – it has since become more of a defining style that now influences much of the work here and the series. Anxious Journeys. is the first coherent set of images purposefully taken in this style.
The Anxious Journeys Series
Alongside two long running projects – The Unreturning and the Township Project – this theme has now become the defining narrative for new work based loosely around journeys.
Some images represent new work when travelling has been possible and others, like Staycation, represent images taken during the Covid-19 lockdown periods of 2020 and 2021.
This series also includes the reworking of older narratives in this style
View Anxious Journeys
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. John Ashbery
Some research tracked down the poem, ‘The Foggiest’, by the American poet John Ashbery (1927-2017).
Which, coincidentally, revealed that Ashbery may well have provided the only English language translations of de Chirico’s 1929 novel “surrealist dream novel”, Hebdomeros.
All images © W N BISHOP