“My Hands for Leonardo’s 500 Years”
An eight-metre large installation recalls da Vinci’s Last Supper
“THERE IS AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCE
IN THE EXHIBITION TITLE: HANDS REPRESENT
THE ACTION OF DOING, A CONCEPT I REALLY HOLD DEAR
IMAGO Art Gallery in Lugano houses a solo show that is called “Nelle tue mani” [“In Your Hands”]. The exhibition is dedicated to Matteo Pugliese and features a large installation (it is more than eight metres large) that reinterprets Da Vinci’s Last Supper five hundred years since his death. The show also gathers over twenty recent works from the Extra Moenia and the Custodi (“Keepers”) series.
THE PURPOSE OF ART DOES NOT CHANGE:
IT MUST BRING OUT EITHER THE SOUL OF THE AUTHOR OR
OF THE PORTRAYED SUBJECT, OR A SPECIFIC STATE OF MIND
Whose hands are the ones you mention in the exhibition title? One may immediately think of a reference to religion, but this may not be necessarily so. So what does “yours” refer to?
In Your Hands is the name of the main work of the exhibition, which is a version of the last supper. In it, I entrusted all the emotional and narrative power of that dramatic scene to hands. When Christ says “one of you shall betray me”, the reactions of the apostles are more evident in their gestures than in the expressions on their faces.
I have also chosen this title because of an autobiographical reason. The hands in my works are actually my own hands, because when I create them, I use mine as models. My work involves “getting my hands dirty” with clay, sweat and wax. I really like this feature of my work and often highlight it.
My hands also represent the action of “doing”, a concept that is very close to my heart and that stands at the core of Extra Moenia, a series of sculptures in which figures struggle to free themselves from the wall.
On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, several exhibitions have been put up to pay homage to him. Why did you do it? How much are you indebted to Leonardo and, more generally, to the artistic tradition of Italy?
I think all Italians – whether they are artists or not – are more indebted to the culture of the Renaissance than they actually think.
Leonardo is an essential source of inspiration and his version of the last supper will always say something about us all, because the emotions he conveyed are so eternal and basically human. Perhaps, the most difficult thing is to overcome the understandable uneasiness one feels when he converses with works by this “heavyweight” of Italian art history without the fear of being considered haughty, or presumptuous.
His work is so famous and recognizable that for my version I decided to use only the outline of the group of Christ with the apostles, removing all other references.
Leonardo once said: “A good painter has two main objects to paint: man and the intention of his soul.” What do you think a good sculptor should do?
I think Leonardo’s words fit the good sculptor as well. One thing is the faithful representation of reality – even a passport photo can do that – and another is to create representations that are capable of revealing either the soul of the author or of the portrayed subject, or a particular state of mind.
I pursue these objectives both in the way I carve and deflesh clay – trying to lend a more personal and spontaneous tension to my works – and in the expressiveness of the bodies I model.
Eleonora Caracciolo Di Torchiarolo