Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Art to See in Venice

All those who enter Damien Hirst's latest exhibition in Venice, you'd better believe it! 

Damien Hirst is one of the most famous and richest living artists, whose career began in the 90s and since then, he has never stopped baffling the world of contemporary art with his daring exhibitions and takes on life and death. Named "the bad boy" of British art, he has been quiet for the past decade but that was because he has been working on his newest presentation which opened in Venice on the 9th of April and will last until 3rd December. 

"Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable" is so enormous that it actually occupies two locations: Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, buildings own by the billionaire, art collector and Christie's owner Francois Pinault. 

The bold exhibition presents a sea fantasy at a fantastical scale and it even comes with a back story: the objects presented, 189 of them, come from a ship that sank 2,000 years ago. They are made of different materials, ranging from marble to silver, "belonging" to Greek, Aztec, Roman, Japanese or contemporary culture. Hirst's team even filmed this discoveries to make everything believable but, the ambiguity is always there when you look at the objects: are they more than 2,000 years old, being covered with corals, or were they created just a few years ago? 

The most impressive piece of work is his 18 meter high black statue "Demon with Bowl" that has you wonder how anyone would manage to get it inside the building. 

Even if people seem to either love or hate his exhibitions, I can truly say it was a privilege to see this incredible presentation of a genius who makes you believe the unbelievable and who has spent millions of dollars from his own pocket to do just that... until his collection is auctioned next year :) 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

God's Silence

My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 

Why would a good God allow evil to exist in the world? The silence we encounter while reading the book is the silence we go through after we have tried in vain to avoid suffering and persecution.

 Endo’s novel, written in 1966, is based on real events and people. The story occurs in 1638 and revolves around a Jesuit priest, Sebastian Rodrigues, who discovers that his former mentor, Father Ferreira, now a missionary in Japan, has apostatized (he renounced his faith under torture). Rodrigues doubts this and wants to go to Japan to find for himself but also encourage the hidden and persecuted Christians there.While hiding, running from the Japanese authorities and finally being imprisoned, Rodrigues battles with his faith and questions why God is silent in all this suffering. 

I, too, stood on the sacred image. For a moment this foot was on his face. It was on the face of the man who has been ever in my thoughts, on the face that was before me on the mountains, in my wanderings, in prison, on the best and most beautiful face that any man can ever know, on the face of him whom I have always longed to love. Even now that face is looking at me with eyes of pity from the plaque rubbed flat by many feet. 'Trample !' said those compassionate eyes. 'Trample ! Your foot suffers in pain ; it must suffer like all the feet that have stepped on this plaque. But that pain alone is enough. I understand your pain and your suffering. It is for that reason that I am here.' ‚
'Lord, I resented your silence.'
 'I was not silent. I suffered beside you.'
 'But you told Judas to go away : What thou dost do quickly. What happened to Judas?'
 'I did not say that. Just as I told you to step on the plaque, so I told Judas to do what he was going to do. For Judas was in anguish as you are now.' (307) 

Endo, a Christian himself, suffered religious discrimination and this novel is his response to the near impossibility of the Eastern and Western cultures existing harmoniously.

 Reading this beautiful novel I asked myself whether we, as human beings meant to err, do not emulate, at times, one by one, Father Ferreira, Father Rodrigues or Kichijiro, a Judas-like figure. Aren’t we the ones who do not give up hope no matter what, who question God’s existence and ask to be forgiven no matter how intolerable our sins may be? Or, as Father Ferreira, we change our views and give up our own beliefs because the circumstances demand we do so… Don’t we sacrifice ourselves for the ones we love thus changing forever our dreams and hopes?

Rodrigues apostatizes but this is not the end. It is in his heart that the love for Christ still lingers and the place where God will answer his prayers and questions.

 “He who has heard the word of God, can bear his Silence.” Saint Ignatius 

Read for my own pleasure and for Bellezza's Japanese Reading Challenge

P.S. Scorsese's movie, which appeared at the end of last year, is a wonderful rendition of the novel.