Corona di spine di Tancredi Parmeggiani

The jesuits have organized an exhibition of great contemporary art


Walking around Milan, with the curiosity of a tourist and the interest in art that is typical of those who feel a disruptive need of it, I find myself in an incredible place. In the middle of Milan Fashion District there is a square with a charming Baroque church: it is the Church of San Fedele, which was designed by Pellegrino Tibaldi in 1586. Towering paintings by Peterzano, Crespi and Maratta dominate the inside of the church. All of a sudden, something different catches my eye: the altarpiece of a smaller altar is an enamelled ceramic. I step closer and discover that the work, which is called Apparizione del Sacro Cuore, was done by Lucio Fontana in 1956. I am very surprised, and yet I am still not aware that what I am now visiting is actually a contemporary art museum. As a fact, well-read Jesuits have created a spiritual itinerary here, which winds between the ancient and the modern ages seamlessly, providing us with a collection that is full of cultural interest and authentic beauty. When I enter the first room, I am already filled with emotion. Here, a majestic red cross by Mimmo Paladino welcomes me with its intense communication, introducing me to the journey I am just about to take. I will meet this artist again in the Cappella delle ballerine, where immaculate walls are pierced by dozens of bronze shoes – ex voto.


A moment’s respite from installations is provided by works by Manzoni, Bonalumi, Castellani, Sironi, Aubertin and Lo Savio, as well as by Two Cuts by Fontana and an Achrome by Manzoni. Among the objects that are on display I even catch sight of an Artist’s Shit. I look at it in disbelief. And what about that very recent collection of works by Nanda Vigo? To understand why this exhibition is so relevant, I remind you that an art show of Vigo’s works is presently running at Palazzo Reale, while Fontana’s drawings converse with Leonardo’s paper projects at refined Museo del Novecento. These intersections between past and present make us understand that art is universal and that the discourse that connects past and presence is a fluid an uninterrupted one. This is what enlightened Father Andrea Dall’Asta thought when he decided to address his devotees using a universal language in order to investigate our sacred objects and origins. As I continue visiting the church, I discover some even more astonishing works: Parmiggiani’s Corona di spine on the main altar; Fontana’s Via Crucis in the crypt; De Maria’s most colourful dome, and finally Kounellis’ powerful and shocking Apocalypse: at first sight, it looks like a hanged man in a sack, but as the artist explained, it is actually a Latin cross which he wrapped in jute. The symbolic meaning and the rawness of this work convey the drama of mystery that is sublimated by the sacred strength of this place.

Marzia Spatafora


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