Philip Colbert: HOUSE OF THE LOBSTER 26th JANUARY – 1st APRIL 2024 National Archaeological Museum of Naples Piazza Museo 18/19 80135 Napoli
British Pop Artist Philip Colbert and the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN) will unveil HOUSE OF THE LOBSTER; this expansive site-specific show marks Colbert’s first exhibition with an archaeological institution.
Visitors to MANN will be able to fully engage with Colbert’s series of marble and bronze sculptures, as well as his vast oil paintings. These pieces were inspired by his initial visit to the museum, where he drew profound inspiration from the mosaics. Colbert was struck by the influence that mosaics like these had on artists such as Rubens.
Colbert’s HOUSE OF THE LOBSTERexhibition is a remarkable tribute to the ancient lobster mythology. The inspiration for the exhibition came from the museum’s mosaic collection from Pompeii, discovered during the years 1830-1832. The exhibition not only delves into the historical significance of lobsters in art but also touches on themes such as mortality, conflict, and the cyclical nature of existence.
The exhibition revolves around a marine mosaic discovered at Pompei VIII, 2 16, which showcases a battle between a lobster, moray eel, and octopus. This conflict had a profound impact on Colbert, who was inspired to create the underwater battle scenes in the Pompeii Series (2023 – present), which are on display here. Colbert delves into the timeless struggle represented in the mosaic by the lobster, eel, and octopus, crafting a story of never-ending conflict.
Massimo Osanna, Director General of the Museums of the Ministry of Culture, said, Contemporary art at the National Archaeological Museum with an itinerary that will involve not only the youngest visitors and their families but also classical art enthusiasts: Colbert’s works, in fact, are an act of love towards our cultural roots, which take us back to antiquity.
The battle scene motif has become a consistent theme within Colbert’s artistic practice, where he skillfully incorporates elements of traditional art history with contemporary pop and digital culture. Interestingly, the museum houses a famous ancient mosaic that portrays Alexander the Great’s victory over Darius III of Persia, which is not currently on public display. This mosaic is a replica of a lost painting by Philoxenus of Eretria or Apelles and serves as a reminder of the profound impact that ancient painting had, even though many of these masterpieces have been lost over time.
This ancient battle scene’s significance is fundamental to Colbert’s practice. Thousands of years ago, this scene was created and it still holds relevance. In his work titled “After Battle of Issus Mosaic,” Colbert takes the composition and places it into the surreal and apocalyptic landscape of his retro-futuristic lobster world. By doing this, Colbert invites viewers to reconsider the enduring impact of historical art within the context of our rapidly evolving cultural landscape.
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