Thursday, 11 April 2013

Stop fussing...and get your hands dirty!

In my early days as a decorator I was told by one of my senior colleagues to stop fussing over removing the traces of "spolvero" (pouncing) because it was an added value for the client. At the time I was a bit dubious! However recent restorations of the Vatican rooms made me think again. Many traces of cartoon transfers: the preparatory designs, were found, unerased and wanting to share this consideration, I went to find a passage that spoke specifically about the small punctuation dots. However I found more about the "traces" and the effect they have regards our perception of these works.
This point is from transcripts taken during meetings held by Maurizio De Luca (Head Restorer at the Vatican rooms) and following the part completion of the restoration of the "Stanza della Segnatura". Much is technical information, however De Luca speaks with emotion, from the stomach, as they say in Italy, in relating those aspects which are intrinsically human.
Now most would have good reason for feeling moved standing just a few centimeters from the likes of Raphael, but isn't it touching to hear how overcome with emotion De Luca is when he actually see's the flaws: a man's hand-print, where he has clearly slipped- and with a mucky paw has caught his bearings against a wall! De Luca literally gushes at finding one single bean in the plasterwork: proof that some unknown helper had possibly eaten lunch while still on the job! He also mentions the genius of Raphael as seen not in this case for precision or minute detailing, but in the fluidity, his quickness, in rendering with a few sharp strokes a head of a Medusa. All of this is described as De Luca's "live meeting with Genius" These are certainly the aspects of Art that win....that transcend time. The facts of the past in all their glory are also stories about real people and human events, that's what makes them fascinating.

"Dunque questa è la testimonianza viva, l’incontro vivo, l’incontro con il genio, ma dove si incontra il genio? Secondo me questa testa di Medusa, eseguita in questo modo, che adesso analizzeremo, è qui che si vede la presenza di un essere pittoricamente superiore. Guardate come a fronte di una staticità invece di una figura che dovrebbe rappresentare la personalità anche se deificata, idealizzata, ma dovrebbe rappresentare una donna …………………………….. ma che ha sul petto questa specie di Medusa urlante rappresentata con una intensità pittorica e con una rapidità pittorica… osserviamo, vedete i puntini dello spolvero, ed ecco il pennello che unisce i puntini in una forma sommaria e inizia il movimento del pittore ed il pennello che si muove con una rapidità ed una sicurezza che grazie a Dio io posso mostrarvi ma che non è facile percepire stando nella stanza. Queste sono quelle grazie che ci vengono concesse che sono concesse a noi restauratori di poter accedere a luoghi inaccessibili catturare queste immagini e poi possibilmente poterle testimoniare a tutti"
Maurizio De Luca. Head of restoration works at the Vatican.