I walk through the archway and wham! I am blown away by how magnificent these buildings are, their splendour glistening on the velvet lawn. I am at Pisa.
I have been here so many times, but never on a cold winter Saturday with so few tourists and the line of trashy souvenir kiosks relegated (at least for the moment) to outside the wall. We had come to see the “Angels” exhibition by Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj in the Piazza of Miracles.
The powerful bronze body of Icarus melts into the lawn behind the Tower as if resting from his fall.
I am awed by the Baptistery such an ice cream cake, the lavish Cathedral and the famous Tower, and so appropriate for Angels to be in their midst. A pity that Mitoraj passed away last October, although as he spent much of his time in Italy I am sure he was honored at being the first contemporary artist to exhibit in the grounds and legendary monuments of Pisa. The introduction reads ‘The presence of the “Angels” has a symbolic significance, which is that of finding a minimum of serenity and peace’ and we hope Mitoraj has found his own serenity and peace.
Part of the exhibition was in the Sinopite Museum where the preparatory drafts (sinopites) for the Monumental Cemetery frescoes gave a delicate background to Mitoraj’s dramatic faces of sleeping gods, or evocative Angels poised on their flight to freedom.
The remaining statues, paintings, and swathed faces were on display in the Cathedral Museum, enveloped in its rich burgundy walls and décor that truly enhanced the heroic Angels, gilded in paintings and intensified the radiance of their marble hands and feet.
Mitoraj works are not unknown to places of worship with several marble sculptures in the Vatican museum and the monumental bronze doors on the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome.
And another fallen Angel on my visit to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily.
The Angels exhibition in Pisa is still on until April 2015 in case you are over this way, or you are sure to come across Mitoraj‘s statues elsewhere on your travels