Sunday, 23 December 2018

Jan van der Ploeg / Piero della Francesca

Souvenir from Monterchi

Sometimes you are asked what your favorite artist or work of art is and what inspired you to do choose so. That is a question that can not easily be answered, because there are so many different facets of art and the experience of art. However, in order to be able to answer this question, I have especially thought about perhaps the most extraordinary circumstance in which I have seen a specific work.

In my second study year in 1985 at the Amsterdam Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, with our group we made a trip through Tuscany to see as many works of Piero della Francesca as possible. So we traveled to Arrezzo, Sansepolcro, Florence and arrived in Monterchi one day early in the afternoon. It was 2 pm and we were too late, or actually too early. The chapel that we wanted to visit would not open until 4:30 pm.
It was in the middle of the day and it was warm. A few in our group suggested to travel and to skip the chapel in Monterchi. Eventually we decided to keep waiting. The chapel was a little outside the town and the only distraction we had were the graves in the cemetery next to the church. Some of the graves were empty. Some of my fellow students, out of boredom, stepped in those empty graves, 'we are in the shadow!' they screamed while photographing each other.

By 4:30 pm we saw an old woman riding a bike coming from afar towards us. When she arrived she put her bicycle against the church and pulled out a big metal key from her apron. She opened the large front door of the chapel and finally we walked into the dark church. We couldn't see one hand in front of one and it took a long time before we were used to the dark. The woman told us that if we wanted to see the painting, we needed a 500 lire coin to light the lamps in the church.
Quickly we took out a coin and handed it to the lady.
She did this in a sort of old metal book rake that apparently connected with lamps and electricity and suddenly two large spotlights went on. And there was the fresco Madonna del Parto. A heavily pregnant Maria with her right hand resting on her stomach. The other hand in her side to support her belly.
At her side, two angels (exact mirror images, using the same colors in the garments and the wings) keep a tent open, decorated with pomegranates. The most beautiful painting I have seen so far and probably also since then.

Jan van der Ploeg, 2018

Jan van der Ploeg (NL)
acrylic on wall, Kunstverein Heilbronn, Heilbronn, Germany
380 x 887 cm

No comments:

Post a Comment