Dimitri Horta’s Greek mythologies are images of Dionysian power. Planes of pure colour, ornaments and symbols unite in an eternal turmoil, spinning around their own axes. Everything is in constant movement, nothing ever stands still. Creatures that are half beast half human, like the Chimera or the goddess Demeter who hides behind the shape of a peacock, draw the viewer into their world, a realm full of surreal symbols.
The beautiful Theros, holding a goose shaped staff in her hand, is floating above bluishgreen water in front of a decorative sun. As the goddess of summer, she meets the expected criteria of lightness and beauty in a splendid fashion. Her mermaid’s tail is the gear mechanism of a small yacht. Her eyes are lost in the distance; she is probably gazing at the long, naked legs of her friend Trygos, who is swinging gracefully on a wooden structure in a green sea full of little swine. As the goddess of grapes, she has prescribed herself some of life’s simple pleasures and is providing the god with sacrificial offerings and giving red water to those who are thirsty.
A much more questionable kind of swinging is being done by Horta’s Polemos. Caught in a continuous circle of irreconcilable disagreements, nailed down in the same sinking boat, doomed to failure and yet full of vitality and strength, the two-edged Polemos is striking out to make further blows. And yet each time, he merely succeeds in hitting himself. With a grimace on every side, his tongue sticking out in mockery, this god of war and disharmony is showing us the absurdity of attempting to make a whole out of two opposing parts.
The red boat nevertheless continues to rock buoyantly on the blue waves. It is the symbol of a stage on which our own weaknesses are mercilessly demonstrated to us in the theatre of everyday life. The Greek gods live on today, immortal, as they act out various worldly wisdoms. The charm of their scurrilous characters and adventurous undertakings has lost nothing of its appeal. Just like them, we find ourselves caught up in a tangle of contradictions on a daily basis. For are we not all a little bit mythical, a little bit Greek, just like the gods we once used to invoke?
Dimitri Horta‘s Hellenistic world theatre floats in the midst of a large, turquoise nothingness, representing a flat disc that is inviting us all to fall off. Only the goddess Hybris has managed to prop herself up on it in a graceful position. Her propeller-like feet are a promise of progress and future. She has her next groundbreaking idea ready; it appears as a helium balloon above her head. Yet once again, Hybris in her arrogance has overestimated herself, she has failed to abide by the rules and is now bringing nothing that bodes well for mother Earth apart from a shower of toadstools. She bid high stakes and ended up losing everything.
When people decided they no longer wanted the gods, Mount Olympus was sold off to the highest bidder and its palace auctioned. The immortals were sent to Walhalla, where they now live a melancholic existence with the mortal gods of the north. Or is this merely another fairy tale, told by old men sitting on shaky wooden benches? Just like the fairy tale of the definitive disappearance of the Chimera and the theory of the world being round. The fact is that Dimitri Horta‘s gods are fresher and more alive than ever before.
Dimitri Horta Catalogue