i MULINI di DIO
Convento di Santo Spirito, ex Carceri Via Merliano, Nola (NA) From October 18th to November 2nd 2014
Exhibition promoted by:Assessorato ai Beni Culturali, Comune di Nola, With the patronage of Diocesi di Nola - Partner:Fondazione Festa dei Gigli -In collaboration with: Associazione Culturale Meridies and Associazione Culturale Pandora
Project management:Galleria Gagliardi San Gimignano
Curated by Alberto Agazzani - text by Stefano Gagliardi
The solo exhibition “The Mills of God” by Ciro Palumbo, curated by Alberto Agazzani and promoted by the Council for Cultural Heritage, opens in the refurbished rooms on the ground floor of the Santo Spirito Monastery (formerly Nola Prison). The exhibition comprises 20 oils on canvas and 8 oils on paper. The works, all of which are being shown for the first time, are inspired by the work of Pieter Brueghel the Elder in the famous painting The Procession to Calvary dated 1564, closely analysed and studied by the director Lech Majewski in the film The Mill and the Cross. Ciro Palumbo reconstructs the journey of the Flemish artist, starting from the metaphysical presence of the Mill and working in an ideal parallelism of atmospheres and reflections. For the 16th century Dutch artist, everythingseemed to end in the sacrifice at Calvary, while for Ciro Palumbo, that end is a new beginning: the victory of good over evil, of light over shade, of hope over the deceit of solitude.Ciro Palumbo transfers to canvas the profanation of time which draws men into its deceit, men who are born and die, inevitably wanderers and prisoners in the spider’s web of human evolution; he paints The Mills of God which, due to the stupidity of human indifference, fall to the ground, surviving only as millstones, reduced to nothing more than ruins in settings steeped in the colours of drama. Palumbo abandons the inclusion of the symbolic element, reducing and twisting the perspectives of the places, and, with the power of colours alone, evokes the painful suggestions of the profanation of shade and solitude.The story unfolds through groups of works which mark the various legs of the journey where, in the end, the flour of faith is transformed into the mystic body of bread thanks to the yeast of sacrifice. The big mill in the centre of the Flemish painting, which symbolises a dominant God but also, on the contrary, the fatigue of living, is transformed by Palumbo into an island of the living, a new and unexpected place of the spirit and of painting, a new destination which imposes a new journey into the invisible.Palumbo’s interest in the Panic mystery ofthe landscape, made emblematic specifically by the large, lone mill, is the unquenchable desire to probe the infinite mystery of painting. Once again, Palumbo immerses himself in his visions, in that metaphysical obsession which takes him on a journey to other shores and other islands, challenging time and space, physics and every possible reality. Here, painting reacquires and confirms its extraordinary record for the portrayal of the invisible, of the transcendental, of a something which, for some people, coincides with God and, for others, with a metaphysical element which has still to be proven.
At every time, in every place
At every time and in every place, man recreates the conditions of his moral decadence and loss of faith and, at that time and in that place an Innocent returns to the path that leads to Calvary.
This is the setting in which the human vicissitudes portrayed by Pieter Brueghel the Elder in his painting “The Procession to Calvary” are played out. Ciro Palumbo reconstructs the journey of the Flemish artist, starting from the metaphysical presence of the Mill and working in an ideal parallelism of atmospheres and reflections. In his work, from left to right, the Flemish artist masterfully translates this journey of light which dies in the shade, while florid and benevolent nature slowly gives way to an increasingly arid and dark landscape. For the 16th century Dutch artist, everything seemed to end in the sacrifice at Calvary, while for Ciro Palumbo, that end is a new beginning: the victory of good over evil, of light over shade, of hope over the deceit of solitude. The story unfolds through groups of works which mark the various legs of the journey where, in the end, the flour of faith is transformed into the mystic body of bread thanks to the yeast of sacrifice. In his early works, Ciro Palumbo painted The Mills of God, like lonely monasteries among the clouds; he portrays them while, slowly, with their millstones placed on top of harsh and inaccessible rocks, they grind flour for men which, for those who can remember good and evil, becomes the bread of faith and prepares the way for their spiritual elevation. The artist depicts this communication between heaven and earth and seals its promises, setting the mills in landscapes characterised by extreme verticality, crossed by clouds full of water and sun: clouds that travel through endless, clear skies, warm in colour and filled with hope. The places are inhabited by men who can remember good and evil, surrounded by nature symbolically created for the victory of dreams and faith over the inadequacy of reality. Metaphysical space expands and spreads: beyond the benevolent sea, the promise of a haven, beyond the earth, the certainty of shelter, beyond the sky, among the mills, the hope of an agreement. The righteous men who want to reach the mills of God have only to raise their eyes to the sky. But, from the height of God’s Mills, there is a clear, outlined view of humanity which, down through the centuries, has repeated the obsessive mantra of its errors and its weaknesses: too much of humanity seems to be absent, unwilling to participate, as though incapable of accepting the truths of the silences cleverly portrayed in the suspended time of these last and final horizons. Many men, from the past and present, had and have no awareness of good and evil, and as they fail to remember, they waste their present in the illusion of a more predictable and reassuring future. Ciro Palumbo transfers to canvas the profanation of time which draws men into its deceit, men who are born and die, inevitably wanderers and prisoners in the spider’s web of human evolution; he paints The Mills of God which, due to the stupidity of human indifference, fall to the ground, surviving only as millstones, reduced to nothing more than ruins in settings steeped in the colours of drama. The horizons of these canvases become more and more narrow, desolate, without a haven, without the certainty of a shelter and without the comfort of even the slightest hope. The artist paints huge rocks and big millstones on paths which have been abandoned for years: the skies are no longer filled with clouds full of rain and sun, but with cloudy strata in the strong colours of the storm; the land is characterised by desolate landscapes immersed in sulphurous colours in the most sinister of shades.Palumbo abandons the inclusion of the symbolic element, reducing and twisting the perspectives of the places, and, with the power of colours alone, evokes the painful suggestions of the profanation of shade and solitude. The real substance of his visions is transformed into violated matter. It becomes an unquestionable sign of an upset in the balance between earth and sky, between the maze of human reasons and faith in a divine design. What once was a Mill, producing flour for the bread of faith, is now a miserable testimony of a broken agreement between an increasingly hostile earth and an inexorably dark, threatening and distant sky.It is under this same sky that the final act that precedes the reconciliation between man and God takes place: that of the procession to Calvary and the Crucifixion. It is undoubtedly the moment which represents the peak of the clouding of conscience, of the violence of the shadows, but, at the same time, it is the start of the redemption of the light, of a possible salvation and a definite resurrection. Palumbo tells all of this with outstanding visual and poetic intuition. He imagines the fallen and lost stones of the mills, as they try to recompose themselves in the crosses of the supreme sacrifice: he paints them as though they are escaping, far from the shadows of the earth, away from the impiety of Calvary, beyond the clouds, to clear, radiant skies. There is no longer a place on the earth of men for them. Now they are part of another story, that of the martyrdom of an Innocent, and the white drape that accompanies them becomes the metaphor of the shroud and his resurrected body. And it is this white cloth that ends Palumbo’s visions: the drape replaces the mills, becoming a symbolic body, being transformed into a white mountain which is the destination and spiritual place of the communion of the bread. This is the final act, that of the reconciliation between God and men who can remember good and evil.
Galleria Gagliardi - 2014: Solo exhibition "I MULINI di DIO" by Ciro Palumbo, critical text by Stefano Gagliardi