Exhibice:Painting for the podium for the Mass of Pope Benedict XVI, 2009
The offer for collaboration from architect Marek Štěpán caught me in Sicily two weeks before the visit of the Pope. Today, it seems simple to me. It is the background, the painting must not draw attention away from what is important. On the contrary, it should best support the spiritual and symbolic dimension of the Pope’s mass.
I knew the colour scheme of the podium space and its near surroundings, and at the place I then verified the colour and spatial dimension of the landscape. I acquainted myself with the colour of the vestments, I held in my hand the Pope’s cross and chalice, I sat in his chair.
I also looked at the background behind the Pope during his similar outdoor mass in Germany and realised the inappropriateness of the solution: it gave the impression of a television studio. I wanted to establish a relationship with the open countryside, I refused the “designing” of the space. I very much like Romanesque frescoes, I know quite a few of them, especially the Czech and Catalan. I was convinced that a rustic solution would be right. I painted with a wide paint brush. I borrowed the motif from my painting series “Flow”. The metaphor of water and desert suited me as well as the general theme of the passage of shape, motion, and time. I thought of the view from a distance as well as of the close-ups of the cameras. It was not a painting, rather a rough watercolour or gouache sketch on wrapping paper.
In the evening after the Sunday, two pastors telephoned me independently and asked me about the fate of the painting. They wanted to put it in their churches. When I came to the place on Monday morning, a wrecking crew already had the whole panel not dismantled, but perhaps shattered by hammers and clumped on the truck taking the waste to a landfill. That unintended transience surprised me, but suited me. I think that without a context, it would have been only a theatre set piece.