An Act of Love

by Danilo Brunetti

Coral and blood come together in a striking and remarkable exhibit taking place in both London and Rome.

Over forty new red coral sculptures and a series of unpublished blood drawings by Belgian artist Jan Fabre (Antwerp, 1958) are on exhibit all month at Rome’s Mucciaccia Gallery, one of the most prestigious and exciting contemporary art galleries in the city. At the same time, a selection of works from the same series is on display at the gallery’s London headquarters, thus giving double life to a single exhibition project. Fabre is internationally recognized as one of the most innovative exponents of the contemporary art scene, and his new exhibit, titled Allegory of Caritas (An Act of Love), presents sculptures of vanitas skulls, anatomical hearts, crosses and other liturgical objects, symbols like the Yin and Yang and the Celtic love knot, emblems related to solidarity, humanitarian aid, and folk beliefs, and even symbols of personal significance to the artist. Each piece is sculpted in Mediterranean coral, fiery red concretions that seem to have emerged directly from the depths of the artist’s mind in a poetic encounter between natural matter and artistic vision. Similarly, in the drawings made by the Flemish artist, drawn literally with his own blood, this vital fluid is used to tell the story of the gestation of his son Django.

For Fabre, art is the ideal means for depicting life, its origin and its mysteries, its opposites, harmonies, and beauty, which, through the meticulous research of the artist, creates works with a profound allegorical meaning. Fabre’s visionary character blends the long symbolic tradition of coral, with the concept of caritas, which etymologically derives from carus, meaning beloved. The combination of coral sculptures with blood drawings creates the appearance of living flesh, from which emerges the sweetness of an intimate and personal emotion.

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