2018 Festival Exhibits
Edward Hopper: Reality and Beyond
In the years of the Great Depression and the New Deal in America, the master realist painter Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967) looked at everyday life in America with disenchantment and melancholy, yet searching for the existence of a meaning in it. This artist is open to the possibility of the infinite, and he looks for its signs, not in a transcendent dimension, but in the reality that surrounds him. It is a reality that doesn’t consist so much of skyscrapers and Broadway lights but rather of the limited horizon of small town America. Realism, or being faithful to the real, for Hopper does not simply mean imitating what is in front of him. Rather, realism is evident, above all, in his fidelity to what his dialectic, and at times dramatic relationship with reality stirs up in him: “My aim in painting has always been to make the most exact transcription possible of my most intimate impression of nature.” When representing reality Hopper concentrates his attention particularly on light. “Maybe I am not very human - all I wanted to do was to paint the sunlight on the side of a house.” Here is where he recognizes the possibility of a new, deeper look at things. His painting stops the passing of time: a house, a lighthouse, a shop, or a figure, all caught in a state of fixed suspension, and immersed in this decided, dense, almost metaphysical light. This is his newness: the possibility of the infinite entering a still, everyday, reality. Hopper himself said he loved the idea of the “delicious hour” expressed by Verlaine. In other words, the moment in which life seems to stop and suddenly the infinite is revealed in it. It is on the threshold of this newness, seen through the reality of a window or shop-front, that his figures seem to stop, astonished, as if frozen in the instant of the sigh preceding the recognition of this infinite. By focusing attention on the artist’s main works, this exhibition illustrates Hopper’s poetic theory by pointing out its connections with philosophy (Emerson) and poetry (Verlaine, Goethe, Frost). In addition, there will be references to the America of the Great Depression, with parallels and examples drawn from the areas of photography and cinema of that period.
The Portico of Glory
The Portico of the Glory on the western facade of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is an artistic milestone and one of art’s most the most famous masterpieces. The beauty and the mystery of over 200 represented figures have captured pilgrims from all ages, and have become subjects of many studies (artistic, historical, theological, even musical). Today we can approach this original work, so full of enigmas for today’s modern man, in search of an inner meaning. What message did its builders want to transmit to us? To whom was it addressed? What does it have to say to us?
The genius of Maestro Matteo, creator of the work between 1175 and 1188, goes beyond the interpretations which until today have tried to give an explanation to the Portico. The apocalypse is not the only source of interpretation and in fact the central scene of the tympanum does not represent the Final Judgement. Christ The King is not in a judgement position, but is waiting for the pilgrims; it is indeed through the gaze of the Apostle James, set at the feet of the Christ, that the pilgrim is introduced to the figure of Christ, seated on the throne of Glory. Christ, with a serene gaze, loving and full of peace, waits for us at the end of our journey and, welcoming us, fills our heart with hope. Looking at the Portico, through an extraordinary photographic reconstruction prepared on the occasion of the Jubilee Year of St James, visitors will find themselves truly beholding a message of hope for all, believers and non-believers, because all are driven by the same desire for happiness.
The Maestro Matteo masterpiece highlights the evident appeal of Christ, which coincides with the appeal which has inspired the creativity of western man right up to the development of Europe. The encyclical Spe Salvi by Benedict XVI provides an insight to the meaning of the Portico of the Glory: “We need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God,. . [..] God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end."
Migrants: The Challenge to Welcome the Other
Migration issue is on everyone’s lips, with people discussing it and confronting with it. Politicians take advantage of it in order to gain voters, while public opinion is divided between the fear of migrants invasion and the wish to receive them with open arms. Moreover, we get distorted and one-sided news from the media. The exhibition offers another perspective: we should try and face the issue not as a problem, but by looking in the eyes the men and women who are migrating. We should try and ask ourselves: who are these people knocking on our doors? Where do they come from? Why did they decide to leave their homes? We should take into account the words Pope Francis pronounced after the shipwreck in the Mediterranean sea which caused hundreds of casualties last year: “They are men and women like us, our brothers and sisters seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war. They were looking for a better life. They were seeking happiness…”