"The Inner Castle"
Curated by Domenico de Chirico
Opening Tuesday 8 March 2022 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
9 March 2022 - 30 April 2022
"Do not go outside, go within yourself: in the depths of man that truth resides.
And if you find your nature changing, transcend yourself too.
Stretch yourself where the very light of reason shines."
Sant'Agostino, De vera religione (The True Religion)
According to the infamous Latin exhortation nosce te ipsum - know thyself - a religious maxim of ancient Greek origin inscribed in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, men are exhorted to recognise their own condition of human smallness, inviting them not to trespass on roles that do not belong to them and to reconsider the limits of human knowledge even before proceeding towards the illuminating path of knowledge and virtue; As Homer asserted in the Iliad, we are nothing but "miserable mortals who, like leaves, now flourish in full splendour, eating the fruits of the field, now languish and die". Such a cognitive process, to quote St Augustine later, can only arise initially from sensation, in which the body is abulic and powerless, followed by the irrefutable role of the soul, of she who judges things on the basis of criteria that go beyond those of corporeal objects, considering that above our mind there is a supreme Truth, higher than the sensible world, where ideas, remaining unchanged in time, allow us to clearly describe the reality of everything that can be considered contingent. Such exegesis aspires more than anything else to see man intoxicated by an intense light, the strongest of all, radiated by the hand of God. And if we are under it, it is because we have been created by it. And it is according to these precepts that 'The Inner Castle', a solo exhibition by the Catanese artist Emilia Faro, was born and took shape, with labyrinthine and tribal environmental features, characterised by silhouettes that stand out slender and sharp, speaking of the four elements that make up matter: fire, air, water and earth. The title of the exhibition, revisited, is taken from the title of the book by Saint Teresa of Avila, "The Inner Castle" written in 1577: it is a spiritual teaching offered first to the Carmelite nuns and then to anyone else, religious or lay, in which Teresa of Avila states that God dwells in the centre of our soul and can only be reached through a life of absolute and devout prayer. Therefore, referring to an earlier vision of hers, she uses the allegory of the soul as a castle made up of seven dwellings. The inner castle thus symbolises a spiritual journey, the aim of which is loving union with God.
This is how Saint Teresa of Avila begins to delineate the imaginative characteristics of the castle, which Emilia Faro captures in a masterly way: "and so what will the room be like in which a king so powerful, so wise, so pure, so full of riches delights?
No, there is nothing that can compare with the great beauty of a soul and its immense capacity!'. In 'The Inner Castle', the emphasis is placed on how fundamental self-knowledge is in order to begin this, dare I say it, mystical path.
In fact, for Emilia Faro, making art has always been a way of getting to know herself and of opening the doors of certain secret, innermost rooms of the castle in which she resides.
However, her artistic practice, which certainly cannot replace lyrical oratory, has in common with it a granite-like dedication and the possibility of being able to momentarily detach herself from the world, while knowing that "you have to imagine that this castle is like that particular palm tree that has its fruit between successive layers of leaves". The matrix that distinguishes Emilia Faro's human and tactile, gentle and refined artistic journey boasts a confluence of hints of personal moments actually experienced that focus on themes ranging from emancipation to freedom, passing through those linked to the condition of modern man and his relationship with the surrounding environment, from essence to lightness, from the Infinite to Nature, made up indiscriminately of fauna and flora, which flows rhythmically, sonorously and disruptively like the water that seeps into the earth. The latter in particular, although vulnerable, becomes ecstatic, protects us and lifts us up to the summit of this ancient castle. Moreover, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who visited Italy between 1786 and 1788, wrote: 'Here, amidst such a variety of plants that I see for the first time, the hypothesis that in the end all plant forms can be derived from a single plant is becoming clearer and clearer to me'. This is the palm tree: a titanic, sacred and ancient plant, a source of life that for Faro, an irreplaceable symbol in all his artistic production, comparably represents strength and beauty, the male and female hemispheres, the lifeblood adorned with dignity and constancy. In addition, and since the time of the ancient scriptures, the palm tree has become a symbol of victory because, although it is often weighed down by all its precious date fruits, instead of bending over, it stands perpetually taller and taller, truncated and soaring.