If considered as a whole, the artistic process followed by Cristina Bonucci appears to be totally in line with the challenge of art masterfully described by Hegel in his Lectures on Aesthetics: art – according to Hegel – resolves itself in the arduous attempt to place the absolute in the sensible or, if you prefer, to make truth inhabit the empirical domain. This is a challenge, to all intents and purposes, because the sensible – by its own nature – is the dimension least suited to express the Truth and the Absolute. This is exactly the greatness and, at the same time, the unresolved contradiction – because it cannot be resolved – in which art is suspended. Cristina's art returns in a splendid form this majestic ambivalence of art. It does so by leaving the viewers in awe, forcing them to confront Hegel's dilemma. On the one hand, as we know, Hegel believes that art – together with philosophy and religion – is fully entitled to be considered one of the forms of absoluter Geist, which in turn coincides with the unity of the Spirit's ideality and objectiveness and corresponds with the absolute Truth. In this sense, art, religion and philosophy coincide with the "Sunday of life" (the original definition used by Hegel for Dutch painting) and with the "speculative Good Friday" (der spekulative Karfreitag), with the eternal celebrated in the finite and with the "self-conciousness of the absolute Spirit": "it is a higher need – he points out in Lectures on the Philosophy of History – for humans to have a Sunday of life, where they rise above everyday matters, dealing with the truth and taking it to their conscience". Cristina's art, in this respect, is a magnificent Sunday of life, which allows us to rise beyond everyday matters and the simple "operation" of the technical-utilitarian world which, eo ipso, prevents us from dealing with the eternal every day. Testament to this, with unique effectiveness, is Cristina's sculpture entitled "Lo studiolo dell'artista", dated 2013: the artist's space is charged with superhuman power, visibly acquiring the numinous status of seat of the Absolute. This is where the artist celebrates the "Sunday of life", establishing a direct relationship with the Absolute. I have no hesitation in saying that Cristina's art not only bravely takes on Hegel's challenge, it actually fully reflects the highest essence of art, the one which best exhibits the power of the absolute Spirit. It is well suited for the words which Hegel again uses to describe the concrete intuition of art of the absolute Spirit. Again in Lectures on Aesthetics he wrote:
"Art reconciles both extremes; it is the middle term which connects concept and nature. On the one side art has this determination in common with religion and philosophy; on the other hand it has its own specificity because it presents even the highest things in a sensible way, thus bringing them closer to the sentient nature".
I think that this could be a very fruitful hermeneutic key to understand the deepest meaning in Cristina's art: it is a sublime junction between "the concept of nature", because it is in itself speculative in a philosophical sense and "representative" in a religious sense. In this regard, just look at "La Santissima Trinità" and "La Vergine della Tenerezza", which for this aspect struck me more forcefully than all others. You can perceive, in the highest degree here, the presence of the divine, of the immanent, of the numinous which is always among us, even when we do not realise it. It also appears very clearly, in a masterful way, from "Raccolta davanti a Te", the sculpture installed in 2006 in Perugia: it expresses and makes visible the artist's farewell to the male figure; this detachment leads her to gradual self-annihilation, which however ends in the resurrection of a new relationship, the incipit vita nova of the symbiotic relation with God. The power of the absolute Spirit and of veritable tension, of the relationship with the eternal and of the overcoming of everyday matters, emerge in a very clear way, fully confirming Hegel's conclusions about the state of art as sensible expression of the supersensible or, if you prefer, as sensibilisation of what is above the sensible. Cristina's art here fully expresses the Sunday of life to which art leads, disclosing a sacred experience of truth and eternity. In actual fact, the same could rightfully be said about Cristina's art which is less directly inspired by religious topics. I am thinking, for example, of a sculpture installed in 2000 in Spoleto, whose subject was the end of a love story: the spiritual can be emphatically felt, it is massively present and innervates every aspect of the work. As mentioned, Cristina takes on bravely, and without doubt successfully, the challenge by Hegel. And she shows us "the highest things in a sensible manner", getting close to the dimension of "sentient nature" and at the same time – raising the latter to the level of pure spirituality, where the sensitive shows its hidden nature of sleeping Spirit. In Cristina's artwork, das Geistige, "the spiritual", is located in its immediate existence to the eye: she makes it available without Vermittlung, or "mediation" by the concept. This is the power of art in general, and of Cristina's processing in particular: it makes visible for us, at a glance, in its powerful immediacy, the truth located in the sensible and, at the same time, always protruding beyond the sensible. What the Begriff, the "concept", finds it hard to grasp, through the winding path of rational thinking mediation, is made immediately available by Cristina's art, in all its uncontainable power. Looking at Cristina's art – it is an experience which I invite everyone to engage in with the right "conceptual patience" – you fully understand what Hegel actually meant when he said that art turns each of its objectivities into an Argos with a thousand eyes. It works in such a way that, in each point in the phenomenon, you glimpse the inner soul and spirituality. In this regard I would like to mention the group of sculptures which Cristina dedicated to the friendship between Italy and Japan: in the foreground there is religious dialogue between Catholicism, Shintoism and Buddhism. The three artworks have been displayed in Palazzo Collicola; they are a wonderful expression of what one might call, to use Gioberti's words, the "polygony of truth": the truth which is just one, can be reached through different pathways and traditions, because it has multiple concrete genetic points. These can be found in Italy as in Japan, which is what allows for the very fecund cultural dialogue masterfully depicted by Cristina. True cultural dialogue takes place where there is difference, as shown by Cristina's art: definitely not in the all-encompassing indifferentiation which coincides with the rhythm of mondialisation. This topic is also at the centre of the three performances dedicated by Cristina to the possible dialogue between Hebrews. Christians and Muslims. One of the greatest values in Cristina's art, moreover, in my opinion, is overcoming the subjective unbalancing which too often characterises art. In this regard, Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics remind us that, in the form of art, there is co-essential unbalance in favour of the artist's subjectivity; such balancing prevents the subject-objective synthesis, of which philosophy alone appears to be able in a complete form. The work of art is the subjective moment par excellence, because it exists – according to Hegel – "in the creating subjectivity (schöpferische Subjektivität), in the genius and in the talent of the artist". It is true that, if art were totally objective, then it would be a mere mimesis of nature (thus confirming Plato's scourging speeches): and, in Hegel's words with a pitiless image, it's as if a worm decided to fight an elephant. Cristina's art excels in respect of the delicate, and at the same time very powerful, balance between the subjective dimension of the artist and the necessarily not subjective one of the Absolute: in this regard it comes perfectly close to the subject-objective synthesis which is the quid proprium of philosophical speculation. I would like to conclude with an enigma, which maybe Cristina's art might help to resolve. As we know, according to Hegel art is ein Vergangenes, "something of the past", which has been overcome by Spirit and its form. At the same time Hegel says that we should rise to "higher forms (höhere Formen) compared to those which can be offered by art". It is also worth noting that considering art ein Vergangenes could plausibly mean – consistently with Hegel's approach – that it is "a past" also in the sense that, in respect of the philosophical concept, it has always been and will always be a reality preceding it. From Hegel's point of view, today the artist's subjectivity rises above its matter and its production: "thought and reflection have gone beyond fine art". Are we really sure this is the case? Or maybe art, far from being dead, today can be an enlivening experience, enabling a tension towards the Truth? In a nutshell, does art not still have much to say to contemporary humans? Cristina's art, in my view, is a fundamental contribution to answering this question in the affirmative.
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