From 27 October to 2 December 2017, Castel dell’Ovo in Naples will be hosting the exhibition Opus Alchymicum: a personal show of work by the alchemical Latvian artist Lolita Timofeeva, representative poet of the metaphysical dimension in the world and of the archetypal symbolism of the surrounding reality.
Under the aegis of the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in Italy and the Honorary Consulate of Latvia in Naples, the exhibition has been organized by Kengarags in collaboration with Naples city council’s Office of Culture and Tourism and the Fondazione La Verde La Malfa, jointly promoted by Touring Club Italiano di Territorio di Bologna and curated by Giorgio Agnisola.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Fondazione La Verde La Malfa, ITALò, Occitane Voyages, Berengo Studio and Enhars.
The exhibition, held to coincide with celebrations to mark 100 years of independence of the Republic of Latvia (on 18 November 2018), will show for the first time in Naples about 100 works of art including paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations and a short film; they are the expression of an idea that first came to the artist during her first visit to Naples in 2005, when she visited the Cappella Sansevero and became interested in the Hermetic philosophy of Raimondo di Sangro (Torremaggiore, 1710 – Naples 1771), the seventh prince of Sansevero, inventor, alchemist, scholar, and the creative mind behind this noble building.
Fascinated by the esoteric aspect of the Cappella Sansevero, Lolita Timofeeva developed a new way of creating, accompanied by deeper insights into her being, through analysing the images of dreams, nightmares and hallucination.
Vivid colours, dark atmospheres and evocative characters fill every work in the show. Time and space are linked, suspended in silence, transporting the viewer to a surrealist dimension. Labor alchymicus 29, mixed media on canvas, created in 2009, best represents the complete transfiguration of the real in parallel with two distinct, but similar looking, realities. This is how Timofeeva manifests an existential tension between meaning and non-meaning in life. Her quest for mysterious models and settings, open to the silence of what lies beyond, identifies a language of an interrogatory life, a gaze into the limits and reasons of existence.
Although there is a strong emotional charge and a subtle eroticism in Lolita’s work, what emerges is not emotional but methodical, like an expression developed in stages, in varying contexts and chapters, where the end of one trajectory leads to the beginning of another, stimulating interpersonal communication.
In her work – through which she develops a narrative that involves viewers in a syntactic performance – Timofeeva variously takes on the guise of a high priestess, a dispenser of life-force and seeker of the absolute, as in Labor alchymicus 1, created in 2007, mixed media on canvas. There is a degree of playfulness in this reflection of the soul: it is often provocative, but at the same time tender and delicate, as when someone tries to cover their own deep secret with a smile.
Opus Alchymicum is therefore an exhibition that invites viewers to experience their own mystical dimension, a “Nosce te ipsum” (from the Latin meaning “know yourself”), not from a religious or mystical point of view, but an intensely introspective one. And this is the true meaning of alchemy and Hermeticism. Alchemy, in fact, did not set out to solve a problem of chemistry but rather a spiritual one. In knowing herself better, Timofeeva has achieved greater confidence and freedom enabling her to cross the many boundaries of figurative representation.
The project starts from a powerful stimulus – amazement at encountering outside herself something that the artist had cultivated in her inner self, a possible answer to the most profound questions.
As Timofeeva says, “The term Opus Alchymicum refers to the work of the mediaeval alchemists, the precursors of modern chemistry, regarding the final aim of their investigations, which was to produce ‘gold from mystical enlightenment’, that is, what urged them to delve further into the art”. A true conceptual revolution, therefore, that arose out of a desire to find an answer to certain stimuli in a reactive and interactive way.
This major exhibition at Castel dell’Ovo therefore represents a significant stage in this human and spiritual journey, from which a less visible and less well-known dimension of the city will emerge. It will not be the sun-soaked vibrant Naples that we know, but one that is more hidden and subterranean, as it appears in the Cappella Sansevero.
Two events planned to coincide with the exhibition will help visitors to understand the oneiric dimension of Lolita Timofeeva’s work: at the Casina Pompeiana in the Villa Comunale, on 18 November (17.30), museologist and art historian Maurizio Vanni will give a talk on Visual Art from Esotericism to Symbolism: from Lascaux to Dali; on 2 December (at 17.30), Martin Rua will present Schischok, written by the Joana Karda collective (to which the artist herself belongs, as well as the writers Claudia Mitri and Vanessa Piccoli). The Honorary Consul of Latvia in Naples Roberto Berni Canani will also be present on this occasion.
Lolita Timofeeva was born in Riga, Latvia. She came to live in Italy in 1991. In 1997, she represented Latvia with a one-man show at the 47th Venice Biennale. She currently works between Bologna, Riga and Catania. She is academy trained. Her investigations have gone through various stages that have led her to alchemical symbolism through the analysis of Hermetic writings. Lolita examines the metaphysical dimension of the world; her lyricism belongs to the world of symbols and archetypes, her investigations are interwoven with study of analytical psychology and philosophy.
Lolita Timofeeva’s work hangs in museums and private collections all over the world, such as the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (Madrid), Casal Solleric (Palma de Mallorca), Museo Internazionale di Ceramica (Faenza), Foreign Art Museum (Riga, Latvia), Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze (Florence), Collezione Arturo Schwarz (Milan), the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, VGBIL (Moscow), Fondazione La Verde La Malfa (Catania) and many others.
She has contributed articles to the following periodicals: “Ogoniok” of Moscow, “LMM” of Riga, “Zeta” of Udine, “Images Art & Life” of Modena. Her short stories have appeared in various collections: “Scarpe sciolte”, “Casamondo” and “Intrecci” published by Eks&Tra.
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