An exhibition exploring the links between classical tradition and contemporary artistic research

The Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, H.E. Massimo Marotti, has inaugurated the exhibition CLASSIC RELOADED. MEDITERRANEA at Villa Audi - Mosaic Museum (Beirut, June 29 to September 2, 2018), an initiative conceived by MAXXI Museum of Rome and produced by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation within the framework of its 2018 cultural programme devoted to the Mediterrenean, “Italia Culture, Mediterraneo.” CLASSIC RELOADED. MEDITERRANEA will be presented at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis in November 2018. The exhibition that opens in Beirut – organized in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Lebanon, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Sursock Museum – is an homage to Lebanon: it follows in the footsteps of “Home Beirut. Sounding the Neighbours,” a major exhibition of Lebanese art hosted by the MAXXI Museum from November 2017 to May 2018.

Exhibition curator and MAXXI Arte Director Bartolomeo Pietromarchi has selected a number of works from the MAXXI Arte collection. CLASSIC RELOADED proposes a new reading and contributes to the revitalization of a shared cultural heritage. It aims to be an ambassador for cultural dialogue between peoples. Art lies at the heart of cultural diplomacy: it is a bridge that overcomes differences and fosters dialogue thereby enhancing the understanding between nations. This crucial function of art is particularly relevant today, being a true antidote to all forms of fundamentalism.

This exhibition intends to represent the culture of the “sea between the lands”, through 20 works by 13 Italian artists from the MAXXI collection in relation to the spaces and the works contained in Villa Audi and the Bardo National Museum. Mediterranean cultures have always been characterized by cultural independence and, at the same time, openness to the other, co-existence, and a dynamic relationship between local and global dimensions.

Hence the Byzantine gold of the paintings of Gino De Dominicis, the Pythagorean geometry of the sculptures of Remo Salvadori, the personal divinities of Luigi Ontani, the eye for Greek and Roman classicism of Mimmo Jodice will dialogue, in Beirut, with the splendid II-VI century AD mosaics of Villa Audi and, in Tunis, with the architecture and the ornamental decorations of the Petit Palais at the Bardo Museum.

The reference to the Byzantine tradition of the gold ground in Senza Titolo by Gino De Dominicis will become clear to the visitor, as will the ironic reference to Roman mythology in Lapsus Lupus by Luigi Ontani. The installation by Remo Salvadori La stanza dei verticali, with the sensual use of copper and the reference to the fundamental concepts of geometry connects us to classical architecture, while in the sculpture by Bruna Esposito, in polychrome marble and bamboo brushes, the domestic and architectural dimensions are intertwined.

With his photos, Mimmo Jodice reinterprets and gives new life to sculptures, paintings, and mosaics from the classical period, while Flavio Favelli with his collage of rugs of diverse origins making up his Fiori Persiani reproduces the culture of dialogue and encounter that epitomises the Mediterranean identity. The ceramics of Salvatore Arancio take us back to local popular traditions with archaic and mythological references. The works of Sabrina Mezzaqui draw on an ancient culture of high quality craftsmanship, while the practice of embroidery and cutting enters into a perfect dialogue with the Moorish decorations. Pietro Ruffo references an aniconic and ornamental aesthetic of an Arabic-Muslim matrix in Icosaedro, while the compositions of Luca Trevisani question presence and absence, fragility and equilibrium, pairings on which classic sculpture is based. The exhibition ends with a work by Liliana Moro: the sound of a birdsong whistled by the artist herself, which acts as a counterpoint to the ornamental motifs of the rooms; two further works examine the cult of death, burial and hypogeums: Mother, the subterranean fakir by Maurizio Cattelan and Porta addormita by Enzo Cucchi, a sculpture-picture with bunches of skulls, works capable of capturing our attention and accompanying us beyond the threshold.