Saturday, August 8, 2009

Deredia in Rome

Rome's two most famous archaeological sites are for the first time playing host to a contemporary art exhibition, with a series of large-scale sculptures by Costa Rican artist Jorge Jimenez Deredia.

A number of massive bronze and marble statues are on show in front of the Colosseum and in the Roman Forum as part of a wider display of Deredia's work around the Italian capital.

Deredia's sculptures have been erected in several key sites, including Piazza Barberini, San Lorenzo in Lucina and in the courtyards of Rome's art museums, such as Palazzo Massimo and Palazzo Altemps.

There are also a number of smaller works by the artist at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, along with several of Deredia's bronze pieces from his renowned Genesis series.

The Forum is hosting 17 separate sculpture groups located at sites along the Via Sacra. The idea of showing Deredia's statues in the Forum and the Colosseum was first raised two years ago but met with resistance in some quarters among those who felt the contemporary nature of the work was inappropriate for the ancient sites. But thanks to firm backing from Rome's municipal council, centre-left former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni and the current centre-right mayor Gianni Alemanno, the initiative has finally come to fruition. Discussing the idea at its inauguration, Culture Undersecretary Francesco Maria Giro said the contrast between old and new was a crucial element of the scheme.

''This is a project that unites the new, which is the future, with the old, which never dies,'' he said. As well as marking a first for Rome's archaeological sites, the exhibition also offers a preview of a new international initiative by Deredia entitled La Ruta de la Paz (The Path of Peace).

The Ruta de la Paz comprises nine new sculpture groups that will eventually be located in nine different countries across the Americas, from Canada down to the Tierra del Fuego, with stops en route in the US, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru and Chile. The idea is to pull together peoples, legends, myths, symbols and traditions from an array of different backgrounds into a single, overarching project. The Rome exhibit features several of these pieces, while the Genesis group at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni has been described as ''the heart'' of the Ruta de la Paz. Deredia's art will be on display around the Italian capital until November 30.

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