As Art History shows, since the first A.D. centuries, the theme of Jesus Christ's passion has been a fundamental motive of many masterpieces of western painting, which still concerns the lastest modern figurative artists. Among these artists there's Anchise Picchi. During his long artistic activity, which crosses the twentieth century, he often dealt with this theme, always using different formulations and techniques. Now, ninety two years old, he again represents this central theme of Christian religiosity: “the Golgotha”. The motivations that pushed this agnostic and laic old artist to paint again, in a quite original way, the theme of the Crucifixion, are here briefly described.
A faithful summary of the artist's words follows.
Anchise Picchi - The naked Cross, acrylic and black pen on wood, 2001
While painting once again a theme that the great ancient artists were concerned with, I introduced, in this sketch, something I felt deeply mine. I tried then to represent what I think to be the truest essence of the Crucifixion: the unconditional acceptance of pain, as the principal element and base of our humanity, not as a universal metaphysical principle, but as a constant and live presence, inherent to human beings' lives.
Thus Christ-man tragedy who renouncing his own divinity via the loss of all known hope and his slow, knowlegable agony upon the cross, attempts to overturn the evil of this world. Wherein leaving the wood cross as universal proof of his torment for those who will come after him, he reached the purest point of physical , bloody and spiritual pain.
But in the ineluctable evolution of events, Christ's figure is no more necessary: now that He died on the Cross and He was removed from there, He became himself “The Cross”: alone and exposed against the dark sky of Golgotha; as a focal, admonisher and point of redemption for all iniquities, arrogances and crimes. Therefore the naked Cross definitely raises itself as universal symbol for humanity, which have to recognize itself in its really deep impression and tearing and, often, unbearable contradictions.
Christ gathered all the world's pain and moved and concentrated it onto the symbol, thus conferring it entirely to the strength of representation giving it its own and independent life. He did it more recognizable and, making it a myth, He crossed time and history and touched everybody. Thus, our sensibilities and minds were forever conditioned.
The Cross is the end point for all tragedies: everything concludes on the Cross. More than Christ's miracles and his resurrection… Now, the Cross no longer needs Christ's fascinating figure, miracles, allegories or rites: for better or for worse, the Cross has become the foundation and culmination of our spirituality; its direct meaning is the basic essence of Christianity for believers and a sort of cruel and infamous mark for laics. Western culture has often represented the Cross in an absurd way, despite the differences of nation, history and language. Because the Cross contains deep contradictions, its shocking nakedness dresses itself in piety or cruel ideologies and shows sectarianism or sufferance, enmity or forgiveness…
After the Crucifixion on Golgotha, everything changed. The Cross became both a statement and live testimony of the immense and eternal inequity of powerful people against the humbler, of the rich against the poor, of cruel people against the pacific. The truest value of the Cross is its possibility to join us to the pain of others: however diverse from ourselves, strangers, enemies even. Its ascendancy overcomes all contingencies of space and time, every personal and spiritual condition, every singular tragedy; it's something that, in its rough and human value, disturbs and joins us, despite our religious ideas, to desperate piety of that red and solitary figure, overwhelmed by such a deep pain and desolation that only the Cross' power on the Hill may rescue.
What the believer calls and feels as “religiosity” doesn't come from the Cross, and it must be so. The Cross doesn't make either religiosity or its attributes and it doesn't make Saints.
Its most important sense is the symbol of an ethic that is inside human minds, inside man as an individual, and finds in the sense of life and in human being's mystery its truest ad deepest meaning. However, the Cross was and still is “used” by political powers and dominating hierarchies in order to refuse these principles. So its truest value can be just individually penetrated and entirely known: neither by nations, nor by governments, in the smallest measure by a crowd.
Finally the Cross is the “anthropomorphous logo” of men's solitude, joined with pain and fragility of exsistence , in front of evil, malfeasance, darkness, fear, precariousness; ultimately: facing ourselves. Is there someone who has the privilege to claim the Cross? It belongs to everybody and nobody. As symbol and myth it resides there where daily practice of inequity occurs.
To own full consciousness of the Cross' power and value, or secularly trust ourselves to its suggestion, may be for us all , I think, a way of accepting a better life. And it must be a motive and goad in engaging ourselves in reducing the endless and senseless pains of this world.