Abi Da Samraj at the Bargello

By Lauren Cansino

Contemporary art is not always so easy to find in a city that is famous for its Renaissance roots with the resurgence of classical style. I was able to find quite a unique and interesting exhibition at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. The Bargello is hosting the contemporary artist Abi Da Samraj and exhibits The Rise of Orpheus: Between and Beyond Representation and Abstraction of Abi Da Samraj.

This collection explores new forms of digital technology that creates an abstract narrative that radically incorporates the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Euridice. The victorious ascent to the light is the central theme of the exhibit. The exhibit features nine large panels and multimedia projections. All of the works are depicted in primary colors and geometric shapes making for an interesting dialogue between ancient myth and digital images shown on a large scale. Some of the works in the collection have never been exhibited until now. The works are on display in the courtyard of the Bargello.

The exhibition coincides with the 750th anniversary of the birth of Dante. To commemorate this occasion there were collaborative performances with the Florence Dance Company that was inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. The performances done by the Florence Dance Company integrated monumental projects of images done by Abi Da Samraj.

Abi Da Samraj is an American artist born in New York City in 1939. He created visual, performing and literary art for more than 40 years before his death. He was the first contemporary artist to be invited to Florence to exhibit his work in the historic Upper Room of All Saints. Not only was he a prolific artist but he is also recognized as a spiritual teacher who produced many volumes of philosophy, poetry and spiritual writing. Sadly Samraj died in 2008 in Naitaba.

The exhibit is quite striking with all of the bright pops of color and especially with how they arranged the art in the space. Though I did enjoy Samraj’s work, it is a challenge to connect Orpheus and Euridice to his abstract contemporary depiction in the form of geometric shapes. What connections can you draw from your experience?

July 9 – Oct 11, 2015
Bargello National Museum
Via Proconsolo 4
Hours: 8:15am – 5pm
Tickets: €4
Bargello websiteExhibition website