Giulia Calvanese

Secret Glances Today and Leonardo

p. Paolo Venturelli o.p.

It is my great pleasure to present the works we will admire today without comment. The synthesis written by the artist, Giulia Calvanese, is complete in itself and any commentary, in my opinion, risks desacralizing the mystery expressed by the visages, glances and colors that we are going to view.
The title of Miss Calvanese’s work is “Miradas Secretas, Hoy y Leonardo”.
Leonardo da Vinci! This year marks 500 years since the death of the great artist and we are at Santa Maria delle Grazie where “The Last Supper”, one of his masterpieces, is preserved. Here, faces, glances and movements conceal but at the same time reveal the mystery of Jesus’ farewell to his apostles before His death.
We stand before a work which I venture to define as a mystical experience; because, only a heart totally gripped by the inward dwelling mystery, can present, on a mere wall, a thought that cannot be expressed in words.
The word “mystical” means an interior personal experience of he who contemplates that which is transcendent.
This is ably expressed by the artist when she says: “I have tried to depict the emotions I felt at that moment.” The meeting of the artist with Leonardo - who is the first and among the greatest inquirers into the motives of the soul - takes place in a “dialogue mainly of shaded introspection” and underscores “how the technical helps to reveal the concept that emotive reality is expressed by slight tonal passes”, the world, the artist says, “is a marvelous nuance on the borders between that which is knowable by the senses and that which is perceivable by the spirit”.
In the works we are about to view, we see shadows and lights. We ask the artist to explain the technique in which she so well expresses the concept that the person is not only a physical body but, also, contains the spirit which animates the physical.
The artistic dialogue with Leonardo da Vinci can be seen in the concluding part that portrays the melancholic face of a man she met on a trolley and whom she has renamed “a biblical patriarch who has seen all and yet lives”.
We are dealing, by and large, with an exhibition that is remarkable because it goes beyond the requirements of portraiture and representative art to open her inquiry to the most hidden but, at the same time, most fascinating dimension of inwardness and the most profound spirituality; a clear mirror of the divine.

translation by Gennaro Cibelli, Dayton, Maryland U.S.A.