A new computer game lets you explore the landscape of de Chirico’s paintings. (all screenshots from ‘SURREALISTa’ by the author for Hyperallergic)

With their long shadows and lonely colonnades, Giorgio de Chirico’s paintings possess a strange allure. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to wander through them.

Now, there’s a way to enter and explore his surreal world. The Brazilian designer Carlos Monteiro has developed SURREALISTa, a free computer game tribute to the Italian artist that simulates it in three dimensions. The goal is to find the secret gateways from one level to the next (there are five), each just a bit more eerie than the one preceding it.


Carlos Monteiro’s ‘SURREALISTa’ (click to enlarge)

The first level begins on a deserted terrace beneath the night sky. I found myself bumping clumsily into walls, topiary trees, and lifeless Roman statues as I tried to find my way out. Feeling virtually trapped amid the illusionistic, frustrating architecture, I had a sudden sense of why de Chirico didn’t put people in his paintings. It was the sort of place that made you feel heavy and tired, as if you wanted to just lie down and take a nap. Eventually, I noticed a staircase leading to the stars — had it always been there? — and climbed it, though not without falling off a few times. Poof! I was in the next level.

The game captures the disquieting reality of de Chirico’s paintings, which is that they’re completely uninhabitable — more representative of a spiritual state than a physical one. Or maybe that’s just a failure of my own imagination. As the artist himself once wrote: “To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams.”


Carlos Monteiro’s ‘SURREALISTa’


Carlos Monteiro’s ‘SURREALISTa’


Carlos Monteiro’s ‘SURREALISTa’


Carlos Monteiro’s ‘SURREALISTa’

h/t Kill Screen

Laura C. Mallonee is a Brooklyn-based writer. She holds an M.A. in Cultural Reporting and Criticism from NYU and a B.F.A. in painting from Missouri State University. She enjoys exploring new cities and...

9 replies on “A Video Game Lets You Navigate Giorgio de Chirico’s Surreal Cityscapes”

  1. I am intrigued by this (although not wowed by the screen grabs). Maybe it’s my age, but I’ve always preferred the visuals of certain video games to the game-play part. It’s been this way ever since I first played Myst. With my favorite video games, I often have wished that there was a mode where the player could just walk around–no puzzles to solve, no enemies to shoot–just you wandering in the imaginative landscape that the video-game artists have created.

    1. there are some games like this, though I can’t think of any I found particularly striking. They’re called “walking simulators”. “Proteus” is something that comes to mind.

    2. hi Robert, thanks for the feedback. I do game because of Myst series 🙂 great fan… About just exploring the world, i´ll strongly consider put a ” World Explore” mode inside the next release of SURREALISTa.

  2. Thank you for this one.
    I love the art games that are inspired by art and making a list of such games. Among them is “Proun” (racing game based on El Lissitzki, Schwitters, Mondrian works etc.), “NaissanceE” (“walking simulator” across the semi-urban claustro- and agoraphobian landscapes, inspired by Piranesi, Anouk De Clerq, Tsutomu Nihei and also Schwitters), “FLomm” (inspired by Historian Avant-Gardists), “Tangiers” (not realised yet, inspired by Dali, Duchamp, Lynch).,, And now this one. De Chirico! Great!

    P.S. Another DeChirico ispired game was “Ico” for PlayStation btw.

  3. These graphics do nothing for me. As a painter and 3D artist, I would rather create my own. De Chirico is one of my favorite artists, but these graphics if seen separately from the article would never lead me to believe they were based on de Chirico’s work.

    1. Hi, when i started production on the game, i pretended it to be Magritte´s world. But i changed mind and the game current version is in some way a mix of styles. Now i´m dedicating full graphics to De Chirico. New dev screens:

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