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Ludovica Rambelli Teatro: Annunciation
A Joyful Message during Corona
by Katouchka Pool
Do you see the light on the downy wing and the face of the angel? Do you see the light play with the hair, the white petals of the lily, the ivory-white folds of the ancient garment? The movement of the angel seems to have come to a halt, almost frozen, to emphasize by subtle finger-pointing at the power of the message that is brought.
This picture is a shot from the video 23 tableaux vivants after paintings by Caravaggio, presented by the Ludovica Rambelli Teatro.
You can see the complete video here; https://youtu.be/WssgNZ96nZ0
In Christian symbolism the angel is seen as a sign-giving figure and an instrument from God. Looking at the video shot, we could think that the angel is coming from a non-everyday reality that for many is perhaps incomprehensible. In my mind it is a reality that becomes perceptible and knowable when we try to look behind the visible world. A universe in which both world history and personal history are being written.
Which message does this scene hold? The angel appears to come from a veiled, invisible world and has landed on a kind of raised podium draped with a black cloth. A white angel on a black base is pointing at a kneeling, veiled woman in majestic purple (1) coat and pure white garment, perhaps silk and soft in texture. She is sitting there like a primordial woman and mother, just like veiled and non-veiled women have been doing for thousands of years. Since time immemorial. Countless, anonymous souls.
The lighting dramatically suggests the supernatural. It falls on Mary’s lap; on her pale hands folded against her breast, on her jaw, shoulder, and back. Her gaze seems to be introspective. The white lily represents her purity, like a blank page that has not yet been written on. What is happening here with so much pathos, what is emphasised and shown with so much emotion? What story is here made visual? Why can it be found countless times during 2000 years of civilisation since the beginning of the Western era?
The Bible story which this tableau vivant alludes to, tells us about the annunciation (Luke 1: 26-35), when the angel Gabriel announces to the virgin Mary that she will give birth to a son, to be named Jesus, who will be called Son of the Most High and Son of God. In my opinion this mystery is a comforting miracle for the liberation of all people. Mary is here an example of how you can follow your heart and your reason, how you can be a good human being and live and act accordingly. Whatever may happen and whatever the circumstances, be like Mary and act with goodwill, bene volenti. The miracle of the annunciation brings light, and trust in the light results in being a light. Do not let the darkness put you on the wrong track, so that you and others will lose courage and end up in the darkness.
The message is about hope, even if in your situation you feel you have no reason to hope, the yawning abyss makes everything look black and without prospect. The message is about faith and trust, even if the perspective can tilt ominously by the corona virus and it is not difficult to imagine various disastrous scenarios.
This tableau is about care and tenderness, about giving each other support and comfort, as Mary’s back and shoulders are brightly lit. She can endure what lies ahead of her. Just like us, she has no idea how the lines in the course of her life and the life of her beloved Son will run and develop. She has trust, receives her life’s purpose, and follows her way, humbly, soberly, in service to God. Along our life’s path, we encounter them all: fear, fright, panic, uncertainty, loss, and pain. It is good to recognise and acknowledge them. Then the light will illuminate them and change them from negative to positive. Faith, hope and love, miracles happen.
As long as we recognise each other in love and beauty, the light will lighten the darkness and the purity of the primordial mother Mary will shine through our actions. In a darkened world, its cover unveiled, goodness is about being in the light, alleviating each other’s burdens.
Ludovica Rambelli Teatro: Video shot/ tableau vivant, 2018, after the painting Annunciation (1608) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Nancy (France), Museum of Fine Arts; with permission to publish this picture. From: Ludovica Rambelli Teatro: 23 tableaux vivants after paintings by Caravaggio; video Simone Calcagni, 2018; music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Lux aeterna, KV 626.
Ludovica Rambelli Teatro, see www.ludovicarambelliteatro.it
Note: In the Byzantine Empire (330 A.D.-1453) the outer garments of both Mary and Christ were painted in the colour purple (icons). This dye originated from the murex (any gastropod mollusc of the genus Murex, yielding a purple dye) and was borrowed from the Roman Empire, from which the Christian civilisation developed. In the Roman Empire purple was restricted to the highest authority, e.g. to the emperor. His beautiful purple garments emphasised his power and prestige. In the Christian art of the West, however, Mary’s coat was usually pictured with blue pigments. Not only because she was considered to be the ‘Queen of Heaven,’ but also because the blue pigment employed early on was often derived from the precious gem lapis lazuli. This gem was even more expensive than gold and very difficult to obtain. Only the most expensive was good enough for Mary. That is why we know Mary as mostly clothed in blue. Whether light or dark blue, this colour is her colour.
Katouchka Pool is an art historian and she lectures and paints in the art of icon paintings and the techniques of the old master painters. She arranges courses and workshops in painting with tempera according to authentic techniques, with traditional or contemporary subjects. She is especially interested in the origin and cohesion of art, culture, spirituality, religion, and philosophy. Her tempera paintings are characterised by a subdued, spiritual, and mystical visual language that invites the viewer to meditate and contemplate. Her poems also lend themselves to this. Paintings and poems form a unity that tell an old, symbolic mystery. www.atelierkatouchkapool.nl