"La foresta imbalsamata" (1933)
canvas oil painting 162x253 cm.
Max Ernst represents the happiness found in playing with art.
Being the most "surrealistic" of all painters he believes that it isn't the symbol that creates the image but it's exactly the contrary. He is a modern artist, restless and visionary.
Ernst used to write about himself saying:
"My mistakes, my preoccupations, my impatience, my doubts, my convictions, my hallucinations, the things I love? my fits of anger, my contradictions, my refusal in giving in to every discipline,
including my own... my work reflects my own behaviour.....Subversive, irregular and contradictory, which results in being unacceptable to the art, culture, customs, logic and moralistic specialists.
In the summer of 1933 Ernst was spending a holiday right in Vigoleno having been invited by theDuchess of Grammond, who in the 1920's had restored the castle to its antique splendors, hosting important personalities of the artistical and cultural world.
"In the castle's dining-room- remembered Ernst in an interview pubblished in June 1971 by Bolaffi arte- there was a very ordinary looking S.Giorgio hanging on the wall. So I went to Milan to buy a canvas of the same measurements. I painted that "Foresta" in just a day. Maria was very frightened, she was afraid that I would paint her a stupid surrealistic painting, but in front of the result she became enthusiastic."
The Duchess of Ruspoli got her intuition right regarding the greatness of Ernst's work of art; the painting, a canvas oil painting of 162x253, is today preserved in Houston (Menil Collection), it's a "frottage" in which the perfect blend of green, yellow and blue of the trees in the foreground with the blue and emerald green of the sky creates a mystic and spooky atmosphere.
There is a bird in front of the vegetation, which is often present in the pictures of Ernst, it's "Loplop" " a game of the imagination", claimed the artist. The picture painted at Vigoleno inspires a second observation; in fact it was the castle's workers that gave Ernst's canvas painting the name "La foresta imbalsamata", a title which it still holds today. That year the actors of the Scala performed Verdi's Aida at Busseto, "in the land where the great composer was born, the performance was magnificent", exclaimed Ernst. In the third act of the Aida is the duet Aida-Amonastro, in which Amonastro describes the perfumed woods of his native town to his daughter:"You will once again see the close-knit forests, the fresh valleys..." The castle's workers, who had assisted in the presentation of the work of art, when they saw it exclaimed:"La foresta imbalsamata!".
"People with an innocent outlook on things-said Ernst-have no problem in seeing things as they really are. It was in this way that the picture obtained its title".
The artist of "Oedipus Rex" of the amazing visions like "The Angel of the house", "The dressing of the bride" and the "Temptation of St.Antonio", got to know and appreciate the sweet and soft serenity of the "Piacentini" hills, of its inhabitants, castles and culture, leaving a strong and unerasable trace of his genius, with a tribute that very few places can boast about.