Alexandra Mazzanti was born in Rome on November 12, 1978 in a family of 700’ and 800 paintings’ collectors. Her mother, a pianist who guides her through classic and opera music and the creativity of her father and grandfather, both chemists and researchers, influenced her formation and education. Niece of the princess Alexandra Hercolani of Bologna, she inherits, from her grandmother, the first artworks that will make her future collection, constantly enriched even by her mother and her spirit for collecting that has involved her daughter, since her childhood, in the 19th century paintings’ auctions. She graduates from Liceo Classico in Rome and at the age of 18, she goes on with her studies in Venice where she starts attending the Accademia di Belle Arti that will then leave subsequently to start working with Venetian sculptors and painters. In this way, she goes in depth with the art world in all its aspects, from a practical side, by arranging canvases, and from an economical and psychological side, by being in daily contact with the artists and their artworks.
She works and creates many scrips for the theatre and dance shows such as “Alice Around Pink Floyd” staged by the popular dancer Denys Ganio, which went on stage at the Olympic Theatre in Rome, and “Tango per Jeorge Donn” presented on the prestigious stage of Bolshoi in Moscow.
She writes several scripts for cinema and for the experimental theater, and her passion for art and painting makes her travel a lot to always discovering new artistic tendencies. She gets acquainted with the dynamism of Contemporary Art overseas and with Pop surrealism that particularly fascinates her as it deals with music, cinema and new technologies.
Her passion for Pop Surrealism starts in 2004 when she discovers the art of Mark Ryden and she decides to live in New York City and California for a year. In this occasion, Alexandra has the opportunity to approach some of the most popular gallerists and artists of the movement, adding artworks by Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Miss Van, Travis Louie, Ron English, Alex Gross, Joe Sorren, Ray Caesar, and many others to her classic personal collection.
In 2007, after her experience in USA she decides together with her mother, Maddalena di Giacomo, to open Dorothy Circus Gallery, the first center of Italian contemporary focusing on Pop and Neo-surrealism, and on the new expressions of figurative art. With its unique style made of nuances and oneiric details completely innovative and seductive, the Gallery starts from Pop Surrealism to become and eclectic environment, full of recalls to the classic tradition, to iper-realism, Magic realism and the excesses of Baroque. The Gallery has been reviewed by all roman guides and the most important magazines such as Vogue, Rolling Stones, Wired, Ad, and many other international newspapers ending with the American underground cult magazine, Art Juxtapoz and the section of the New York Times “36 Hours in Rome” the section about the “Must Visit” in the eternal city. Since its opening, Alexandra has always worked as director and curator of this exhibition space, curating personally all the exhibitions scheduled and collaborating with the major icons of the movement. From 2007 until today, she devoted herself to the realization of 68 exhibitions, among which 7 institutional projects. Today , she is focusing on her second gallery that opened in the fall of 2017 in heart of London Notting Hill while continuing to curate and direct all details of Dorothy Circus Gallery.
“Alexandra” by Maria Egizia Fiaschetti
Let’s begin from the name. Dorothy, like the main character of the Wizard of Oz: an imaginary creature indeed, but not like the absent-minded Alice. Another detail: the red shoes that not only have superpowers, they wink on stage.
Let’s get down to the circus: an idea of choral show, between the clownish and the tight-rope walker. The common element is the marvel that joins art, music, theatre and entertainment.
And now astonishment becomes a sort of research; a hunger to reach beyond, to find the image that catapults you in the realm of dreams.
Extraordinary or multisensory trips, enclosed in a hyper-stratified artwork, or dispersed in the environment.
It is with audacity that in 2007, Alexandra Mazzanti’s gallery lands in the Pigneto district of Rome, an old peasant area on the outskirts of the city, dear to Pasolini and gentrified by the new occupiers (artists, intellectuals, VIP fauna). The area of the gallery is on the ground floor of a small villa; two large rooms with fiery red walls and an external courtyard. Since its first inauguration, it became instantly clear that Dorothy is not just any art gallery, the public is welcomed by a contortionist in a shop window. But the idea is not to shock, to enhance the container to sweeten the enclosed. The show is intrinsic to the idea of art as an immersive experience. And the vernissage is a small masterpiece in itself, playing the surprise card. It reminds me of the historical Parisian exhibition “Le Vide” by Yves Klein at the Iris Clert gallery in 1958, with its monochrome white walls and blue cocktails being served to visitors.
Seven years later at the Dorothy gallery, you can sense the same feeling of being at the forefront, in a Pop Surrealism key. The new climate – a melting pot of techniques, contemporary iconography, computer graphics, underground style and erudite citations – is one of the new “isms” of the Noughties. And Alexandra Mazzanti, adventurous like her fairy tale alter-ego, is already searching for the Witch of the West; not to defeat her, but rather to adopt her. Dorothy is to Pop Surrealism what The Factory was for Pop Art: a family.
Without matriarchal diktats or the whims of a career woman, it is not unusual that after an exhibition you find yourself in the lounge of Alexandra Mazzanti’s museum-house, between toys and records, sculptures by Kathie Olivas and Amanda, Alexandra’s dog attempting to steal a mouthful from the table.
Dinners by chez Mazzanti, like the vernissage, are always different: from sushi to last-minute recipes made out of fridge leftovers, from macaroons to the capital’s most famous tiramisu.
All done without formality, the only ingredient that is never missing is a happy company. This is the reason why Art and Life are continuously blurring into one, from the pressroom to the living room, from foreign trips to uncover new talents to the tireless web searches.
The alchemy comes out of a blend of fantasy and substance, of creative flair and entrepreneurial nose. And the secret is the passion, an adventure after the other. It’s from this desire to change that the decision to relocate to the centre was born. To the new base in Via dei Pettinari, between Campo de’ Fiori and Ponte Sisto. Which is, of course, a strategic location, but the logic is not just business oriented. In the meantime, Dorothy has grown. You can see it from her creations, her children Gelsomina and Romeo (Alexandra is always surrounded by an aura of rarified and pre-Raphaelite beauty, so that it’s difficult to guess how old she is): at the beginning they were two tiny little things, now they have become a sensitive preadolescent girl and a quick-witted boy.
They are two pieces of artwork in flesh and bone that do not disdain being depicted near their mother like the main characters of a familiar novel, in which homework and football matches are laced with installments and inaugurations. If it’s true that the art dealer lives in symbiosis with the rest of the world, it is also true that she manages to cut herself out sometimes on her own. That’s when you see her in front of her computer, captured by the latest “genius” uncovered online. Or absorbed into planning her next event, strong-willed and dreamy… Then she wakes up and you can hear her shout: “Gelso, Romeo, food is ready!”.
Dorothy Circus Gallery
Dorothy Circus Gallery is a space dedicated to the most intriguing new tendencies in contemporary art, with great focus on the most original and compelling traditional and digital painting techniques and visual codes stemming from pop iconography, contemporary surrealism and street art.
Dorothy Circus Gallery opened in Rome in 2007 and rapidly affirmed itself within the Italian art and cultural scene. In 2017, on the occasion of its 10th year anniversary, Dorothy Circus launched a temporary gallery in the charming district of Notting Hill. The gallery subsequently moved to a permanent location a few steps away from Marble Arch in November 2018, continuing to reach new audiences and to deliver thought-provoking exhibitions.
Dorothy Circus Gallery was founded by Alexandra Mazzanti and Maddalena di Giacomo with an “Art Circus” formula that allowed the gallery to establish itself as an exhibition space that put in the spotlight figurative avant-garde in contemporary art, the USA-born Pop Surrealism movement, Street Art and Italian and European figurative sculpture and painting. Defined by the press as a place “on the boundaries between New York and Wonderland”, Dorothy Circus brought for the first time on the Italian and international scene big names from the Pop Surrealism movement and Street art scene such as Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Ron English , James Jean, Joe Sorren, Camille Rose Garcia, Alex Gross, Miss Van, offering visionary shows and magical experiences in a living room with red velvet walls, where during the openings of the artists’ exhibitions, musicians, dancers and performers entertained the guests with created performances and site specific experiences inspired by themes of the shows.
Thanks to its focus on figurative visual codes (that have been set aside until the first decade of the 21century) and always privileging harmonious techniques and emotional narratives, the gallery has played an important role in paving the way for the return of figurative and surrealist art, with pop iconographic nuances. An art completely innovative, and at the same time strongly linked to the tradition of classical painting.
Through dedicated and rigorous research, and always anticipating market trends and interests in the global market, Alexandra Mazzanti, director and owner of looks at contemporary art as an increasingly transversal construct, fuelled by the influences of all the Arts and aimed at enhancing the figurative as a stage for the surreality, a product not only of the unconscious personal search for beauty, but also an alchemic mixture of literature, poetry, cinema, theatre and psyche, which leads us back to that intense network of happiness and pain that connects us all.
The gallery plays a key role in presenting some of the most promising ultra-contemporary and hyper-pop artists such as Afarin Sajedi, Rafael Silveira, Amandine Urruty, Millo, Seth, alongside many Asians, such as Hikari Shimoda, Naoto Hattori, Jeffrey Chong Wang, Moe Nakamura, Fuco Ueda, Yuu Kawashima, who, following the steps of Japanese masters, have transformed contemporary art, merging together their fascinating historical and cultural traditions, refined techniques artistic and social trends.
As home of the imagination, Dorothy Circus proudly supports the ability of the new generation of artists to construct their own creative identity with much attention to cultural and emotional symbology. We are experiencing a process in which art history in all its forms and variations is being slowly remixed with new narratives aimed to an increasingly wider audience, that is becoming more and more less sensitive to the repetitive patterns of minimalist codes, no longer sufficient to describe the complexity and beauty of our contemporaneity.
Thanks to its distinctive premises, D.C.G. perfectly embodies the visionary and revolutionary mood emerging from these seductive artistic tendencies. Through its astounding scenery, the gallery spreads one of its core concepts and goals: to arouse vibrant emotions and to offer an introspective journey for each spectator. While displaying an accurate selection of surreally intimate and emotional masterpieces, the curatorial team targets to bring the beholders back to their primordial memories and to perceive again the adult’s inner child, transcending the limits of space and time. While keeping this peculiar signature sign in its kinetic Art Circus, the Gallery also discloses a unique touch in presenting a personalised concept store with not only art books, but also an exclusive display of limited editions and art collectibles, creating an exhibition hall which reminds of a Tim Burton’s setting.
Since 2017, Dorothy Circus Gallery has been expanding its concept store aiming to offer a multi-sensorial gallery experience, where the spectator is embraced by a waltz of scents, visuals, tastes, and sounds. The project began in 2016 with the production of “Palpitation,” a memorial perfume produced in collaboration with the Venetian master perfumer Lorenzo Dante Ferro, which represents the beginning of an explorative journey. Pop Surrealism delves into multiple layers of the mind, drawing its inspiration from dreams, myths and the subconscious, proving to be much more than just visual art. Dorothy Circus pushes the definition of Art Gallery by truly entwining the multi-dimensional and poetic attitude of the movement, offering a truly memorable experience through the delights of the six senses.
The Gallery also produces with its own brand, Dorothy Circus Factory, a selection of art-related products distributed all over the world, such as gallery exhibition catalogues and special limited editions as the very exclusive Palpitation Eau de Parfum and Palpitation & Sacré Bleu Teas.
Dorothy Circus Gallery and its director Alexandra Mazzanti curated the significant Pop Surrealist exhibitions: “What a WonderFool world”, held in 2010 at the Museum of Palazzo Collicola in Spoleto, and numerous other exhibitions at various Italian museums such as L’Acquario Romano – Casa dell’ Architettura, and Palazzo Valentini in Rome; but also a series of projects dedicated to the social sphere, among which “Spray for your Rights”, which involved artists, audience and the town council of Roma Capitale on important social and cultural issues such as Cohabitation, Minority Rights and the Protection of the Environment. Finally, the solo exhibition “The Trouble with Angels,” at Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana in Turin, in 2014, dedicated to the leading digital art Canadian artist Ray Caesar, and “Mysterium Coniunctionis” in 2016. The special event “Mysterium Coniuctionis” has been a unique exhibition featuring a book signing by the two main icons in the history of Pop Surrealism: Mark Ryden and Marion Peck. Dorothy Circus Gallery, the leading European centre for Pop Surrealism and New Tendencies of Contemporary Figurative Arts, has always been followed with great attention by the major international press. It has been selected by Juxtapoz magazine as one of the top 100 world’s galleries, and by The New York Times, in “48 hours in Rome”, as a main spot to absolutely visit when in Rome.
“Dorothy is to Pop Surrealism what The Factory was for Pop Art” – Maria Egizia Fiaschetti