10 ottobre 2022
by Maria Rita Nocchi

Lobster & Dolce Vita

Philip portrait with hunt painting 
Philip portrait with hunt painting 

A 20-foot lobster wearing a crown with raised claws as if to greet passers-by. Other lobsters “wearing” contemporary art symbols, like Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Damien Hirst's Shark, and Duchamp's urinal. We are talking about the original sculptures of pop artist Philip Colbert, part of the “Lobster Empire” exhibition that premiered, for the first time in Italy, on October 6th in Rome.

To see them, just take a walk on Via Veneto, the symbol of Dolce Vita. Until December 8th, twelve medium-to-large sized works in bronze, steel, and aluminum, lobster sculptures that look like something out of a cartoon and make people smile.

As Philip Colbert told Mag 1861, his sculptures originated from an in-depth study of art history: "The lobster is my alter ego, the alien that is in all of us, an expression of surrealist humor. I believe that art is about breaking through the walls of reality to build something new."

Colbert hails from Scotland, has a degree in philosophy, and lives and works in London. He is a metaverse pioneer, having founded Lobsteropolis City, entirely dedicated to lobsters.

As if that weren't enough, he also invented “Lobstars,” an innovative virtual project with important repercussions in the real world, as a substantial sum from sales in Non-Fungible Tokens was donated to research for the welfare of marine animals, in line with British government directives.

Working in the metaverse is more than just a fad for Colbert: “It’s an opportunity to present art and experience it in a new dimension. I became an artist when I became a lobster,” he says jokingly.

Known as "Warhol's godson," Colbert studied classical art and casually mixes the influences of the past with digital and pop art. He has exhibited in the world’s most important museums, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Modern Art Museum in Shanghai. He is little known in Italy, a country he loves: "It has a wealth of history and masterpieces. I was really excited when they asked me to bring my work to Rome, the ancient capital of the world."

Among Italian artists, his favorite is Giorgio De Chirico, but he also loves Francesco Clemente very much, a major exponent of Neo-expressionism, and Luigi Ontani, famous for his tableau vivant works.

Giulia Silvia Ghia, the councilor for culture of Municipality 1, explains why Colbert was asked to exhibit in Via Veneto: "Finding space for contemporary art is essential. Every layer of the Eternal City was contemporary in its time. We must renew the dialogue between the past and the present, so that Rome is not seen only as a beautiful monument, but as something that is alive today.” As one of the most innovative personalities of the contemporary art scene, Colbert is the right artist in the right place. When asked if eats real lobsters, he answers: “Never. It would be an act of cannibalism.”

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