Painting of the Amen
Bruno Forte

“Human beings go to god in their tribulation, they cry for help, they ask for happiness and bread, for salvation from sickness, sin and death. So do they all, all, Christians and pagans. Human beings go to God in His tribulation, they find Him poor, offended against, without shelter or bread, they see him consumed with sin, weakness and death. Christians are close to God in His suffering.” These verses by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written in the prison at Tegel where he passed the last two years of his life before being martyred by the Nazi barbarity in the Flossenburg concentration camp, express the profound demand, proper to every true disciple of Jesus, not just to “admire” but to “imitate” Him, accompanying Him in the choices of His life, and above all at the hour of His pain.
“What is the difference between an admirer and an imitator? An imitator is or aspires to be that which he admires; an admirer instead, remains personally outside: consciously or unconsciously he avoids seeing that that object contains the demand to be ,or at least to aspire to be, that which he admires.” (S.Kierkegaard, Training in Christianity). Therefore the whole life of Christ on earth, from beginning to end, was absolutely addressed to having only imitators and fending off to admirers.
The historia passionis painted by Serena Nono responds to this demand with particular density. In no way a rethorical exercise, it expresses involvment, passion, which fosters the memory of His passion, actualizing the mystery in our own flesh and pain, to participate in union with the ‘mysterium pietatis’ of divine weakness for human redemption. These images are not mere objects of contemplation: they ask to be accompanied in the religious hearing of the Word and of the Silence, which inhabit them, as if to bear the cross along with Him, to bear witness- in the disquiet of this so-called “postmodern” season, which has emerged from the adventures of ideology and is bewitched by the seduction of the lack of sense and the lack of passion for truth- to the “impossible possibility” of hope, which conquers death and which only the suffering of God crucified has disclosed to history. A painting that is “memory” in the strong and hard sense of the biblical “ziqqaron”: not an operation of the mind going towards the past, fragile “extensio ad praeterita”, but a receiving the Other in His coming to us,, and thus of the “so be it” in us.”. Amen” of life and of the heart in images, a painting of impassable paths that do not capture, but invoke the Other: this is how Serena Nono’s painting seems to me, nurtured with memories, participant silences, awaitings, the discreet and intense presence of the Whole in the fragment. A place of not ephemeral but true beauty…

“Painting of the Amen. On Serena Nono’s cycle of the Passion”
From the catalogue Figure, Lineadombra libri, 2000

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