Revolt of the Sage is an exhibition featuring sixteen artists that takes its title from a work by Giorgio de Chirico painted in 1916. The Revolt of the Sage is an example of what the artist would call a ‘metaphysical interior’, and yet its crowded pictorial space overflows with ephemeral things: frames, measuring devices and biscuits. Objects pile up and overlap, while a strange perspective recedes into an irresolvable background. What did the artist mean by a ‘metaphysical interior’? In a letter to Apollinaire, written around the time he painted The Revolt of the Sage, de Chirico describes two realms: our finite condition, and its loss and longing, and a metaphysical realm where time does not exist.
It has been almost two years now since I’ve seen you. The Ephesian teaches us that time does not exist and that on the great curve of eternity the past is the same as the future. This might be what the Romans meant with their image of Janus, the god with two faces; and every night in dream, in the deepest hours of rest, the past and future appear to us as equal, memory blends with prophecy in a mysterious union.
Giorgio de Chirico to Apollinaire, July 1916
Picking up on de Chirico’s vision of a ‘metaphysical interior’, Revolt of the Sage gathers a range of artists who use collage, juxtaposition, fragments, framing devices and layered imagery to explore ruptures in time and the alluring mysteries of the everyday. The exhibition features new and existing work by contemporary artists alongside late post-War artists such as Lynn Chadwick, Hanne Darboven and Sigmar Polke.
Curated by artist-curator Simon Moretti and Craig Burnett, Blain|Southern’s Director of Exhibitions, the exhibition emerged from the thought that de Chirico’s ‘Metaphysical Aesthetics’ would resonate with artists whose work inhabits that chasm between the here and now and a dream of ‘the great curve of eternity’ that we might perceive in a small, measurable work of art.
On the occasion of the exhibition, Blain|Southern will publish a book that features a newly commissioned interview between art historian Ara H. Merjian and philosopher Jesse Prinz, alongside existing texts by Giorgio de Chirico, John Ashbery, Lydia Davis, Apollinaire and others.
Participating artists: Horst Ademeit, Lynn Chadwick, Hanne Darboven, Haris Epaminonda, Geoffrey Farmer, Jannis Kounellis, Mark Lewis, Goshka Macuga, Christian Marclay, Simon Moretti, David Noonan, Sigmar Polke, Erin Shirreff, Michael Simpson, John Stezaker and Paloma Varga Weisz.