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21.01.2021: Discorso di saluto dell’Ambasciatore Luigi Mattiolo in occasione dell’inaugurazione della mostra “De Chirico. Magica realtà” della Hamburger Kunsthalle

Sehr geehrter Herr Erster Bürgermeister Dr. Tschentscher,
Sehr geehrter Herr. Dr. Alexander Klar,

It is an honor for me to open digitally your first exhibition on “Giorgio De Chirico” and on the founding years of the Metaphysical Painting in Hamburg. I would have loved to do it in person together with you. Nevertheless, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity of a virtual visit of your wonderful Kunsthalle in a unique “digital cultural space”.

First, I wish to convey my deepest appreciation for your outstanding efforts to put this exhibition in place. Despite the challenges of the current pandemic, you managed to collect in Hamburg an unprecedented selection of 60 remarkable masterpieces from 50 collections worldwide.
Yours is a genuine European exhibition, conceived between the Kunsthalle in Hamburg and the Orangérie in Paris, and sponsored by Generali, an Italian company with a pan European vision.
Moreover, “Magische Wirklichkeit” is also a very “timely” exhibition, even if – when you started planning it – you would never have thought so.
In fact, De Chirico’s creation was deeply affected by the turbulent times he lived in, through World War One and the pandemic outbreak of the so-called “Spanish flu”, which killed more than 50 million people worldwide.
What we see in De Chirico’s paintings is often a desolate landscape without flora, a gloomy sky, and shadowy figures: spectators or men of trades.These features echo throughout his work to create a lonely and abstract Italian landscape, where his desert squares: “Piazze” we say in Italian, are at the same time familiar and alien, ancient and modern, peaceful and unsettling.
In De Chirico, the park and “piazza” are no longer places of promenades; they become anonymous spaces of transience.
The way De Chirico sketched these places anticipated what Marc Augé would later call “non-places”.
Unfortunately, the “suspended” world depicted by De Chirico looks like so familiar to us, since we are going through a pandemic.
During the last few months, when cities grounded to a standstill in order to contain the pandemic and meetings between people became “gatherings” to be avoided, also our streets, squares and workplaces became empty places.
In this new dimension, they revealed their hidden architectural lines but also a sense of void and lack of social function in the absence of people.
As in De Chirico’s paintings in the past, void “piazze” recall us the importance of social interaction among human beings, the role it plays in the collective development of our societies as well as in the moral growth of individuals.
For us, one key message coming from De Chirico’s “magic reality” might be even clearer than for his fellows: only the presence of social life, gathering human beings in dialogue, makes the magic reality surrounding us bearable, understandable and, hopefully, enjoyable.

Thank you