05 Dec UN CERTAIN REGARD 2
Here is the second instalment of ´Un Certain Regard ‘, the column of our Magazine that invites readers to focus on certain details of paintings which could escape a superficial gaze.
For a more detailed presentation you could read the first article of ´Un Certain Regard ‘ if you have not already read it,
What I would like to present today is a series of images that have the same subject – Angels – as you may have surmised from the title.
These spiritual beings that fly above our heads have been considered to be the liaison between man and the divine since the dawn of civilization.
The name comes from the Greek anghelos meaning messenger, and also for ancient Israel Angels were the malachìm that is the liaison between man and God.
We speak in general of angels, but in fact these heavenly beings have always been highly differentiated on the basis of their appearance, their role etc.
Even St. Paul speaks to us of Principalities, Authority, Virtues and Thrones
The definitive hierarchy, officialized by Saint Gregory the Great, is due to Dionysius Areopagita and his De Caelesti Hyerarchy.
So while we’re sipping our coffee, watching a game, or fast sleep, above our heads are a host of angels grouped into three different orders.
The first order includes Angels, Archangels and Principalities.
The second comprises Powers, Dominations and Virtues;
And the third includes Thrones and their courts “with many eyes and many wings”, i.e. Cherubims and Seraphims.
The paintings that are presented here today, are all ancient, almost all of them belong to the Venetian School of the sixteenth century.
In fact, modern artists, but above all contemporary artists, have totally different interests (apart from a few rare examples that we’ll come back to in a moment).
A modern supreme artist who represented flying beings/spirits was Marc Chagall, who in fact was a great biblical scholar.
The recurring themes of contemporary art are totally different: they are above all multiculturalism, ecology, and some political satire.
Of course, there is no shortage of artists who refer to spirituality.
They are generally inspired by the Cabbala, others by the Tarot, and there are some who even go as far as Zoroastrianism.
Often, we learn about the topics dealt with through explanations provided by critics and catalogues, because otherwise how would we understand the message, as is the case, for example, of a broom leaning against the wall? While it is easier to get an idea when what is portrayed is a urinal or some excrements inside a box…
Surely you will know that recently, one of the major artists of contemporary art, (whose face, just think, is unknown!) was the protagonist of a fact that shook the artistic community, and not only that.
Just moments after being sold at an auction for a handsome sum, a canvas by Banksy self-destructed, shredding itself to strips.
To everyone’s amazement, through a remotely controlled device, the canvas began slowly, but relentlessly, to shred itself.
But something went wrong, the contraption got jammed, leaving a fair portion of the canvas intact.
From all quarters people raised their voices claiming the whole thing to be a scam, or, one might say, a ´machination’.
Called upon in the first person, the famous writer, was forced to defend himself.
Of course, he did so, but on the social media with this justification “at home it had worked perfectly well, and the canvas was completely destroyed”. (!)
As I mentioned above, there is one rare example of a contemporary artist who has represented Angels. I am referring to Banksy.
His work is the last of the photos you can see below (it was not taken live like all the other photos of Magazine).
I also left the caption, which despite resembling a newsreel of old films, is a true news item published by the prestigious press agency ANSA.
I always find it educational to compare different eras and different styles, leaving it up to the public to judge.
There are no doubts that contemporary art is never boring; It is like a flowing river, full of clever stunts, astounding news.
For example, did you know about the computer-generated picture created by an algorithm, which was auctioned at more than € 400,000, yes, four hundred thousand euros?
Anyway I think we’ve had enough of this for today. I’ll take up the topic again next time.
But, let us return to our dear, old angels.
I certainly do not know what hierarchy the angels in the magnificent pictures below belong to. Do you?
Perhaps we could imagine finding a place for them among the nine classes of Cherubims, Seraphims, Archangels etc….
Maybe we could ask our Guardian Angel to help us out…