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Posted on December 1, 2015

A meeting of minds



Im an ardent admirer of the inspiration one art form can fuel in another. Occasionally these
prompted pieces can take the form of a dialogue with the original works, adding meaning and
verve to those earlier pieces.
At the Santa Giulia museum of Brescia, a duel exhibition is performing just this feat,
showcasing 35 works by 1997 Nobel prize winner Dario Fo created in direct response to the
work of his hero Marc Chagall.
Rather like a duet of piano and cello playing out to exquisite effect, with one passage of notes
echoing and building on the other, the exhibition features celebrated pieces by Chagall
reflecting moments from his youth and early adulthood, with dreams and impressions woven
into the paintings and sketches, many of which have never been displayed before.

Marc Chagall sketchbook

I entered this gallery first, accompanied by dozens of members of the Italian press, all jostling
for a closer look and a quote from curator Eugenia Petrova and artist Dario Fo.
The images, which include stunning early works from Chagalls childhood in Russia, resounded
against the walls of the narrow space, presenting scenes of farmland against portraits of
Jewish workers this is the artist whose painting The Fiddler inspired the musical Fiddler on
the Roof, a detail I rather love, and which demonstrates the visceral energy of his work.

Lebreo in Rosa by March Chagall

Fo, you may recall, is most celebrated for his work in the theatre (as a playwright, set and
costume designer, director and even composer) explaining in part, perhaps, this match made
in heaven.
Many of Chagalls works speak of love, too, which is also an enduring theme for Fo.

In a separate hall, I strolled amid the 20 works by Dario Fo, each created especially for the
exhibition. Accompanied by 15 preparatory paintings, the companion pieces draw from
Chagalls work but also Fos own life.

They fizz with vigour, revelling in their colour-saturated canvasses. Even pieces depicting
traumatic events (such as this one by Fo showing the new-born Chagall being plunged into an
ice-cold bath to shock him into breathing), are packed with humour.

Theres a wonderful sense of Darios personality imbuing the pieces, a wry wickedness and a
glint of mischief. This is, after all, the man who muddled together European languages to

create a brand new theatre experience.

While Dario (pictured left) claims to have learnt storytelling from fisherfolk and glassblowers,
his passion for the work of Chagall means much of his mark-making has been influenced by
the artist described by Pablo Picasso as the only painter left who understands what colour
really is.
Its a legacy that lifts both segments of the conjoined exhibition, along with a passion for the
fantastical and surreal.
Dario Fo was born in March 1926, and discovered Chagalls work when he was only in his
Its such a happy and harmonious union that I can only wonder that this collaborative exhibition
didnt happen earlier, and be glad that it happened at all.

Marc Chagall. Russian years 1907-1924: with a story in pictures by Dario Fo is on at the
Santa Giulia museum in Brescia until 15 February 2016. I cant think of a more delightful
excuse to flit over to this beautiful Italian town than an exceptional spot of culture. Find out
more about Brescia at www.bresciatourism.it/en/
This entry was posted in Reviews, Travel and tagged art exhibitions, Brescia, Dario Fo, Marc
Chagall by Judy. Bookmark the permalink.

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