Arshile Gorky a retrospective exhibition banner

Garden in Sochi

Though Gorky never visited the Black Sea port of Sochi, the Garden in Sochi series alludes to his general recuperation of his mythic past. Furthermore, the reclining figures, plant and animal forms are very close to the related Khorkom works. Though he felt no need to specify particular sources of inspiration, in 1942 Gorky related the largest of the paintings seen here to a magically evoked memory of his father’s orchard at Khorkom: ‘There was a ground constantly in shade where grew incalculable amounts of wild carrots, and porcupines had made their nests. There was a blue rock half buried in the black earth with a few patches of moss placed here and there like fallen clouds.’ This recovery of childhood memories coincided with Gorky’s encounter with the European Surrealists in wartime New York. Their emphasis on psychological reality rather than the external world, and on freer, more improvisatory forms of creativity, would prompt a shift in his attitudes and ways of working.