Jan Fabre. To Eusebia / The Number 85 (with Angel Wings)

Jan Fabre, The Number 85 (with Angel Wings), 2022. Church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, Napoli © Archivio dell'Arte | Luciano e Marco Pedicini


Dal 02 Marzo 2023 al 02 Marzo 2023


Luogo: Real Cappella del Tesoro di San Gennaro / Complesso Museale Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco

Indirizzo: Sedi varie

From Thursday 2nd March 2023 two important artworks will further embellish the Royal Chapel of the Treasure of Saint Januarius and the church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco in Naples. The works in question are To Eusebia and The Number 85 (with Angel Wings), two permanent installations created by the Flemish master Jan Fabre that have been donated by Gianfranco D'Amato and Vincenzo Liverino.
Under curatorship of Melania RossiTo Eusebia will be installed in Naples Cathedral in the Chapel dedicated to the city's patron saint alongside paintings by Domenichino and Lanfranco, more than fifty sculptures and statues of fellow patron saints, and the so-called ‘Splendours’ of Royal Chapel of the Treasure of Saint Januarius (400 kgs of silver).
The second sculpture, The Number 85 (with Angel Wings), will be set in a niche to the left of the altar in the church of Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, restoring a mystical-sacral aura to its surrounding setting.
To Eusebia (2022) is a magnificent panel made entirely out of a chiselled mosaic of Mediterranean red coral that will be placed in the Antisacrestia, where the keys to the safe containing the ampulla holding the blood of Saint Januarius, an object of popular worship and devotion, are kept.
The artist decided to evoke how this cult began by focusing on the pious woman, a relative or nurse of the Saint, who was the first to collect his blood after his martyrdom in 305 A.D.: as in other works by Jan Fabre, this is once again a tribute to women who have played such a key role in history in general and the artist’s own life in particular.
The artist dematerializes the image of the saint and synthetically and poetically represents various objects related to the cult of his miraculous blood: the mitre featuring with a magnificent garland of coral branches surrounded by tongues of fire and large coral tesserae evoking the 3328 diamonds, 198 emeralds and 168 rubies that adorn it; at the top of the panel, two keys identical to those used to open the safe that holds the blood extend towards two ampullae made out of red cornets, symbols of fertility and prosperity. The symmetrical layout of the composition creates a feeling of synchronic movement, the keys clink against the ampoules and the dark red drops of blood descend slowly on the sides of the mitre, forming precious clusters of half-pearls and beautifully worked cylinders. The background consists in an endless chiaroscuro of coral red, a monochrome created by natural variations of hues and shapes in which one recognizes, here and there, the intervention of the carver’s expert hand and of the artist who has painstakingly assembled little roses, tiny horns and small leaves resembling starfish, evoking the natural habitat of this extraordinary material.
The Number 85 (with Angel Wings) (2022) is another sculpture made of Mediterranean red coralthat could only have been created for the church of the Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, Naples, where Fabre seems to have artistically identified with the representations of death in life and life in death that are the very heart and soul of Neapolitan baroque. The work, which seems to have some direct lineage with another sculpture kept in the church, the so-called “winged skull” designed by Dionisio Lazzari in 1669 for the main altar, consists of a human skull with long, tapered wingssprouting from its sides; the number 85 appears on the front, whose numerological significance is linked to souls in Purgatory and which is directly linked with the worship of the dead or rather with their souls. The work is a sort of anatomical meditation on the way life dissolves into other living forms, revealing the great passion for transformation of this visionary Flemish artist/entomologist, whose work is constantly on the brink between Bosch, Artaud and Cuvier. But it is also an invitation to take an initiatory journey of purifying elevation that is evoked by the wings extending upwards in the name of the healing of the soul, following the same notion of ascendancy Dante Alighieri described in Purgatory in his Divine Comedy.
To Eusebia and The Number 85 (with Angel Wings) are accompanied by a catalogue published by Electa with written contributions by Angela Tecce, Melania Rossi, Marino Niola and Sara Liuzzi realized thanks to the contribution of Studio Trisorio.