From March to May 2005, six meetings were held between a Frenchwoman in love with Romanesque art, Anne Louyot, and a group of Brazilian artists interested in European medieval art, gathered in the atelier Piratininga, in São Paulo.
The meetings had the following themes:
- the Romanesque church, a sign of the French landscape;
- the shapes of Romanesque churches;
- the pillar adventure;
- the vault challenge;
- Romanesque sculpture between the sacred and transgression;
- the explosion of colors in Romanesque churches.
There were two ambitions for these meetings: to study together the current situation of knowledge about French Romanesque art; share a way of looking, of understanding art in general and, in particular, Romanesque art.
Romanesque art, which, since the 19th century, has been the object of passionate rediscovery by archaeologists and art historians, still has much to bring us, due to its technical inventiveness, its relationship with the environment, the integration between different artistic expressions, the wealth and the apparent permanence of the images that have reached us.
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The diversity of the techniques used shows, at the same time, the difficulty of the context (forgetting the old procedures, rarefied labor) and a great capacity for adaptation: facing the same problem, the solutions vary considerably from one region to another. Between an ancient heritage gradually rediscovered and new inventions, Romanesque art witnesses the technological renaissance of the West.
Intimacy with the environment distinguishes it from Roman art and its heirs, such as Carolingian art in the West, an imperial art that imposes a unity of forms throughout the Empire. Romanesque churches, centers of monasteries or parishes in the context of a feudal retraction, are linked to their regional context by the materials, shapes, techniques, choice of locations and labor. This retraction did not prevent the creation of currents of exchange that crossed Europe. Romanesque art continues, however, to be inhabited by a “spirit of the place” that is still a theme that can be reflected on today.
The coherence between the different arts, still modestly named “mechanics”, stone cutters, carvers, masons, carpenters, sculptors, painters, vigorously gathered around architecture, made it possible to create works of great physical and formal consistency.
In short, Romanesque images, often enigmatic, combine several iconographic sources, in a message to which we only have partial access today, touching us in an obscure way, regardless of our culture or belief, because such images require more than one look, demand a deep adhesion.
Our second concern was precisely to think together about the look. What does it mean to look at a work of art? The invasion of the field of gaze by “empty” images, equipped with ephemeral messages, threatens both the public's ability to apprehend the works and the status of the work of art. Contemporary art, which feeds on the flow of images and uses contemporary techniques that contribute to its multiplication, seems contaminated by its fast pace of obsolescence. The old works, in turn, are assembled and set in museums and galleries that we cross quickly; they are filmed, photographed and commented on more than properly looked at. Where's the gaze that lingers? The look is as important for the artist as it is for his audience; makes the work live in time and in the imagination of the other; it creates the place of contemplation in the intimate space of the gaze.
What is the image? What does it refer to? The artist emerges from his body and spirit, makes visible signs that cross the density of the senses deposited by culture and history. It is a subtle or radically new combination that differently affects the consciousness of everyone who looks at it. Facing the work, what is the responsibility of those who look? Understand it? By flesh, spirit, intellect? Make it yours? Individually, collectively?
In view of these issues, we decided to look together, from different sensitivities, points of view and cultures, the works of Romanesque artists. To look, to look truly, with patience and attention, with the awareness of everything that takes today's gaze away from the eyes of the Middle Ages; and also with the hope of filling this gap a little, through study and contemplation; in the search, finally, to see an inner look emerge, which “prolongs” the look directed at the world.
We also wanted these meetings to build bridges: between Brazilians and French; between Romanesque art, creation of medieval Europe, and São Paulo, a major megalopolis of the 21st century and, finally, between language and image.
Exhibition “Romanesque art seen from Brazil” by Anzy le Duc
A presentation of the works carried out by the artists of the Piratininga studio, around this Romanesque route, this Romanesque look, ended the cycle of meetings. The quality of the works, the surprising presence they gave to Romanesque art in the middle of a city of chaotic urbanism like São Paulo, led us to propose its exhibition in France, in a Romanesque church, in one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in Burgundy: the church of the monastery of Anzy le Duc.
The city and the parish of Anzy le Duc enthusiastically welcomed this project, as an extension of the demonstrations organized in Burgundy within the framework of the Year of Brazil in France, Brazil-Brazil, in 2005. The works found their place in the Romanesque church quite naturally. : the golden limestone of the Brionnais region welcomed the engravings, calligraphies, photographs taken in São Paulo in harmony with Romanesque art. The veins in the plastering of the walls joined those of the engravings, the light from the windows gave life to the photographs, the pillars welcomed the tissue papers that had the mark of Brazilian stones on them.
The exhibition took place from July 29 to August 25, 2006 and allowed to deepen the dialogue initiated in São Paulo between Brazilian artists who were looking for a memory of forms, and an ancient art with the power to instigate the gaze and give a new breath for contemporary creation.
The objective of this work is to reconstruct this experience, presenting at the same time the content of the meetings on Romanesque art, centered on the Romanesque church of Anzy Le Duc, and the works carried out by the artists Ana Calzavara, Ernesto Bonato, Florence Grundeler, Kika Lévy, Margot Delgado, Maria Villares and Marisa Fava.
The Trinity Church of Anzy le Duc, a small town in the south of Burgundy near Paray-le-Monial, is one of the most interesting Romanesque buildings in Burgundy, due to its sculpted architecture and decoration. The city of Anzy le Duc, which was established in the Middle Ages around the monastery whose center was the church, occupies a summit that lies between the Arconce valley, a tributary of the Loire, and the floodplain of the Loire, very fertile . This favorable situation made the region an inhabited place since antiquity, and it is possible that, before, there existed a place of worship before the Roman village that named it.
 We chose here to limit our observations to the 11th and 12th centuries