Peter Depelchin spent long years in Italy and developed a particular relation with Rome. Often staying near the Villa Borghese parksite, he got to know the sculpted fountain called “Fonte Gaia” created by Giovanni Nicolini (1872-1956) at the beginning of the 20th century. The fountain, also known as the “Fountain of the Satyr” or “Fountain of Rabbits” exists of a central sculpture and a basin. The central sculpture of the fountain shows a satyr and his nymph companion playing with their satyr child. On the side of the circular pedestal the sculptor added rabbit heads.
This sculpture provided Depelchin with all inspiration required to create a disturbing image. Depelchin, convinced of being satyr-like himself, represented his muse borrowing the same posture as the original nymph by Nicolini. Peter’s setting, on the contrary, is vast and deserted. No playfulness in his image. The nymph tries to tear out a trunk with a screaming rabbit’s head. The roots of the trunk, reminding of exotic mangroves, are well attached to the dry earth.
The subsequent image of the series shows Depelchin’s muse again. This time, she rides a hippalectryon in a similar deserted setting. As the nymph herself, the hippalectryon is a mythological creature. The creature consists of a horse’s head and a rooster’s body. Peter’s journeys in Rome brought him in touch with the endless depths of classical mythology. Especially representations on Greek and Etruscan pottery of creatures like this strange hippalectryon proved to be helpful to enlarge his allegoric universe.
Depelchin borrowed the name “Gaia” for this series, both evoking the fountain, as its source of inspiration and the Greek Goddess of the Earth, Gaia, whom he compares to his muse and wife.