Levi van Veluw in Lucca, Italy
Sanctum, curated by Angel Moya Garcia
Until 22 September 2019
Tenuta Dello Scompiglio, Via di Vorno, 67, Italy How to get there: Pisa airport, 20 min by car/taxi Trainstation Lucca, 10 min by car/taxi
May: Thursday-Friday: 14.00-18.00 / Saturday-Sunday: 15.00-19.00 June-September: Thursday-Sunday: 15.00-19.00
Levi Van Veluw, Born as the grandson of a minister, has been fascinated with the church and its rituals since his early youth. The complexity, conviction and certainty with which the faith was proclaimed in his congregation and the stark visual language of its practice made him sensitive to the visual vernacular of religious seduction. Yet also modern spiritual movements, such as the well-known Church of Scientology, that make convincing use of religious symbols, intrigue him as well.
Throughout the ages, in cultures around the world, religion has played an important role in the development of art, architecture and storytelling. Even if spiritually is ultimately immaterial, most people practice their faith in places of worship, using sacred objects and performing sacred rituals. Van Veluw has meticulously studied the rich formal language and power of imagination that is used to lead people to religious faith. Within this research, he is particularly interested in the aspects of the religious process. He chooses not to focus on political issues surrounding faith, but rather explores how the various faiths operate in the mind of the faithful through form and image. And whether he, as an artist, is capable of provoking a convincing spiritual experience in the visitor.
The installation Sanctum, developed especially for Dello Scompiglio, testifying of a fictitious religious conviction, engages all the senses of the visitor. The last room where visitors ended their journey in Kerguénnec, nell’installazione “The relativity of the matter”, becomes the starting point for a more elaborate proposition in the expositive space of Dello Scompiglio. Van Veluw based Sanctum on of the first religious buildings, the tabernacle, also called the tent of meeting. This tent served as a place of worship and symbolized God’s presence amidst those who had gathered. The interior of the tabernacle consisted of 3 spaces: the forecourt, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. These spaces were sacred in ascending gradation. Like the Tabernacle, Van Veluw’s work features symmetry and harmony, to express the strive for divine perfection and reflect the divine holiness through the careful gradations of the three phases. As such, he plays with the age-old composition of the religious structure and thereby lures the spectator deeper and deeper into the sanctuary.
After a long descent, a mysterious dark blue glow shines through a narrow crack in the wall. The visitor enters through this opening into a high-ceilinged, underground space, the forecourt. Massive columns emerge on both sides and mountains of coal lie scattered across the floor, while the path in the centre is kept open. Static forms set in repetitive sequences recall the structure of an ecstatic building, made to glorify an unknown higher purpose. The space slowly comes into view, an open passage at the end leads to what appears to be a ritual environment, the sanctuary. Fragrant water flows through an ordered pattern of geometric incisions in the floor. At the centre, there is a chapel, composed of a detailed network of grids, boxes and openings, the Holy of Holies.
Is this an opening to a new world in which religion, again, plays an important role? Or does the artist use existing symbolisms to lure the mind into a new religion? These are questions the artist leaves the spectator with.
ABOUT Levi van Veluw
In 2010, the work of the artist was showcased in a series of major museum exhibitions, including the exhibition “Dead or Alive” at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem and Ars Electronica in Linz.
2013 saw the publication of the book “Origin of the Beginning”. This singular book is a work of art in itself, published in an edition of 1000 hand-signed copies. The book, which is widespread among collectors and enthusiasts, provides an overview of the artist’s work from 2006 to 2013, a rich oeuvre that includes photographs, drawings, installations, sculptures and videos.