Salvator Mundi

For a little, The astonishing case of the last Vinci would make the secret fantasies of The Da Vinci Code tasteless. The “last Vinci” is this painting in which Christ the Savior emerges not from a background of gold as in the Orthodox icons, but from the darkness that we fear, and from which he protects us by his simple blessing. In November 2017, this work became the most expensive painting in the world – $ 450 million! And yet, at the time of its sale at Christie’s, the doubts about its signatory had not all been removed. Was it by Leonardo or was it a studio work? But nothing that slowed down the bidders when it was awarded. And now the controversy has been relaunched on the occasion of an investigation broadcast the day before yesterday on France 5. Léonard, or not? The answer, nobody knows it, but the debate had the merit of putting back to the heart of the news a religious painting, in the etymological sense – a painting which connects us to God, by an art which engages our Salvation; that revives God in us.

→ ANALYSIS. The “Salvator Mundi” still under the seal of mystery

And to remind us that there are, even today, artists who conceive their art in this particular relationship, which was the root of Western expression. In music, in the footsteps of Johann Sebastian Bach, there are Thierry Escaich and Arvo Pärt whose compositions push us to try to find a name – a sound – very old and lost, which could be that of God. There is Françoise Bissara-Fréreau and her splendid stained-glass windows, made in the chapel of Saint-Laurent des Bois de Veigné, and among them those of the Annunciation – they literally transfigure the light when it enters the church, a light that from then on, it itself becomes an annunciation. Françoise Bissarra-Fréreau borrowed Lalique’s technique to splendidly renew this particular art, which was a flagship of France and the Gothic.

In sculpture, there is Jon Helip, who leaves it to the ocean to draw the first shapes of his driftwoods, from which he brings forth pilgrims, prayers, doves and virgins to the Child, so many works that invite us to contemplate their beyond, their Mystery. In painting, Stanislas Bouvier signs not the skies, but the heavens, so much his clouds shrouded in vapors and storms continue to represent the ascent of the word, its crystallization in prayers, and transport us.

There is the precise and whimsical precision of the engraver Paul Kichilov whose stylus often dives into the inks of the other world where Christ in glory holds out his arms to us. There is, masterfully, the goldsmith Goudji whose liturgical works connect two cardinal points – the east of lost civilizations and the west of an inspired contemporary creation. We dream of seeing him entrust the new altar of Notre-Dame de Paris, he who has already offered to the cathedral his baptismal font and the paschal candlestick. We would then celebrate the reunion of content and form, in other words the faith of an artist embodied in his work.

Because what is striking in the works of all these artists today is that their reality no longer lacks that we can pray through them. They all participate in the theology of beauty celebrated by the Fathers of the Church, for whom the Word, mysteriously represented, offers itself in contemplation, symbol of presence, and its shining place. Isn’t that what Saint Gregory of Nyssa said: “The glory of the eyes is to be the eyes of the dove” ?

And then there is another painter who devoted himself to telling the Mystery, through a work that neither seeks to shock (although: is there anything more subversive today than a Christian iconography?) Nor to prove anything since it merges with what it manifests. François-Xavier de Boissoudy has just delivered his last pictorial meditation (1), based on the theme of the here and now. Already, he had deepened his reflection around Mercy, or the Beatitudes. Around this verse of the Our Father Your kingdom come, Boissoudy continues to respond with all his art – by ink washes on paper and subtle chiaroscuro – to the demands of his spirituality, to say that je ne sais quoi of broken, fragile, imponderable, where the being spreads and communicates with his fellow man.

→ READ. François-Xavier de Boissoudy, painter of wonder

And it is no coincidence that the author of Grace (2), Thibault de Montaigu, composed the exegesis of this exhibition, since grace touched the artist one day he was painting. We therefore understand his conversion and how much, as Montaigu writes: ” vst is the contemplation itself – and not the motive – that opens up to the beyond. Primordial intuition: grace is first of all a conversion of the gaze. “


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