2013 – oil on canvas, 160×150 cm / 63×59 in
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, who is and who was and who is all-powerful”. Apocalypse, I, 8
Orgoglio or Superbia is the negative connotation of pride, one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Catholic moral doctrine. It is the attempt to conquer at any price a superior position in relation with others, the ultimate expression of Ego, which annihilates the soul. The bird in this painting cannot be blamed. It’s us who interpret his posture as pride; us humans, who get so easily carried away by our financial, sexual and other exploits. They let us forget our extreme fragility, until the day when destiny strikes.
I have experienced myself how radically we change our perceptions through grave diseases and serious accidents. But I would not be able to describe this state of mind with such beautiful words as my friend and Chromy Award Laureate, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, in his book “A Second Life”, the true story that inspired the film “The Untouchables”. Philippe comes from an old and rich French noble family. He had everything one can hope for in life; he was literally flying higher and higher in his paraglider, until one day destiny struck and he entered total silence and suffering. “When there’s silence, consciousness takes control. Disability and illness fracture and damage the body, but in confronting you with death, they also release a breath of life in the form of hope, which constantly replenishes itself. When you breathe it correctly, you find your second wind. Marathon runners know about catching a second wind. It’s a kind of state of grace. I had been struggling to breathe for forty-two years before my accident. We all suffocate ourselves by rushing too fast, by wanting to be the best, the First.
When you can see beyond the screams, the whispered confidences, the sterilized beds waiting for their next occupant, you realize that humanity is made up of the shades of the dead and their groans. You find out there has been a before and there will be an after, that the Ancient shared our world, that eternity is inhabited by those who came before us. Hope is the bridge that leads us from remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summit of the mind to eternity”.
When Beatrice, Philip’s beloved wife, faded away she told her father “I saw Christ and he said to me: Wipe your mouth on my Cloak, its cloth will erase all sins. Wrap yourself in my Cloak of tenderness”.
I hope that my “Cloak of Conscience” can give comfort and tenderness to everybody in search of his inner-Self. Not the Ego, as in “Orgoglio”, but a quiet state of mind, believing like Spinoza in a God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of the Universe, and who allows us to accept and endure our sufferings.