Once you come down from Donizettis studio in Cittą Alta, to the Arsmedia Gallery lying in the artistic heart of Bergamo between the Carrara and Modern Art Galleries, these drawings express the fascination of secret papers - hundreds of sheets kept by the painter with incomparable care, perhaps because of the innate fragility of pencil and paper, although this is only an apparent fragility, in fact able to resist the passing of centuries.
Just a glance at these drawings and the art and philosophy of Donizetti is immediately revealed. "They express the Being, the Spirit, they express Life wrote Jean-Louis Ferrier There is a design within the drawing ". An intention, an aim, an end. And the end is also sometimes the painting of which they are repeated studies, a trace of an evolving idea.
But to remain within the sphere of the exhibition, look, for example, at an initial drawing (1950) of the highly dramatic Crucifixion (1951) on the cover of the catalogue. The body of Christ is depicted almost horizontally, as if only laid on the cross. The soldiers have not yet crucified him with the nails and have not even bound him as in the finished picture. The right leg is bent at a greater angle, the cross is still not raised in all the bold and unusual prospective of the painting, in all its extremely human drama. Christs eyes still watch us. In the painting, on the other hand, they are closed in the darkness of death, or rather in the anguishing gloom of the descent to the Underworld, which the foreshortened view on a dark blue background accentuates. That Christ is humanity itself suffering, it is man nailed and bound to the cross of injustice and of extreme poverty, it is man alone without even the compassion of a mother, brother or a devout woman. It would appear to be a Christ to whom Resurrection is denied. But on "the third day ".
"The third day" will come for the crucified man as well. In the end, this is the great promise of the Beatitudes.
The solitude is terrible and desolate in the other Crucifixion
exhibited, too, which was painted in 1959. The palette has lightened and the background
But in the clear and leaden light, the trees are nothing but sterile black poles, scaffolds for further crucifixions.
Along with these two painted Crucifixions, there is also the cartoon for the Crucifixion (1969) on exhibition in the Museum of the Treasury in the Vatican. Never has a crucified person been more dramatic, never so humiliated, never so nude, never so defenceless but, at the same time, great and epic. Colours of darkness, slate grey and misty, are in agony with the Christ. The reason for the judgement is not written a the top of the cross, but shamefully hung round the neck of Jesus. His body, with the legs bent at sharp angles, is sitting on a board which extends out from the cross itself, obscure and huge. The last glance of his dying agony is for the blind cruelty of man as a crowd, of man as an individual, of man as power. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". We take part in something dreadful and majestic which implicates us and makes us suffer.