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 the most famous masterpieces in art history. The beauty and mystery of over 200 figures have astonished pilgrims through the centuries, and have become the subjects of many studies—artistic, historical, theological, and even musical. Today we can approach this original work, so full of enigmas for the modern man, in search of an inner meaning. What message did its builders want to communicate? To whom was it addressed? What does it have to say to us?
The genius of Maestro Matteo, who created the work between 1175 and 1188, goes beyond interpretations that have tried to explain the Portico. The apocalypse (the book of Revelation) is only one of several interpretations, even though the central scene of the tympanum does not represent the Final Judgment. It features Christ the King, not in a judgmental position, but waiting for the pilgrims; it is indeed through the gaze of James the Apostle, set at the feet of 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 for the Jubilee Year of St. James, the visitor will truly behold a message of hope for all men, believers and non-believers, as all are driven by the same desire for happiness.
Migrants: The Challenge to Welcome the Other
The issue of migration has been on everyone’s mind lately as people discuss and confront it. Politicians take advantage of the debate in order to gain voters, while public opinion is divided between fear of invasion and the wish to receive migrants with open arms. Moreover, the media gives us distorted and one-sided news. This exhibition offers a different perspective: we should try to face the issue, not as a problem, but by looking in the eyes of the men and women migrants themselves. We should 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 consider Pope Francis’s words pronounced after the shipwreck in the Mediterranean sea that caused hundreds of casualties last year: “They are men and women like us, our brothers seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war. They were looking for a better life. They were seeking happiness…”