ART, Musings

Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’

Yesterday saw a world record break for any work of art sold at auction. The salvator mundi was sold for $450.3m, including auction house premium, by an anonymous buyer in the auction at Christie’s in New York. “Salvator Mundi” (“Savior of the World”) is one of fewer than 20 known paintings by da Vinci, and the only one in private hands.

Though I can hold a good conversation about beauty and art, I know little about its sale and purchase. So I reserve my comments about the heartburn that just the mention of the purchase sum gives to me.

But there’s been and still are tons of hype about it. Lots of hype about the painting, the painter, and especially about the 500 years of history behind it. The salvator mundi has gone on display in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and New York. Thousands of people have gone to see it before its final sale.

If 500 years’ worth of history can cause this, how much more should 2000 years’ worth of history do? I, who believe not just in the painter, nor in the authenticity of the painting BUT in the figure – CHRIST painted by Da Vinci, what is my reaction? Does my belief lead me to act thus? How does it affect my day to day life?

Add to this, the lot of talk and analysis to ascertain if it’s an authentic Leonardo’s.

Salvator Mundi Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator mundi

Modestini, who restored the salvator mundi commented that ‘I shudder to think what might have been used’ in the grotesque repaintings of the painting. The varnish was “sticky and uneven” with crude touch-ups, quite possibly the work of “the owner or a local amateur”.

She didn’t stop at shudder though. Modestini then professionally restored the Salvator Mundi. Despite some damage to the face, the flesh tones fortunately retain their layer structure. She stabilised the picture, removed most of the later overpaint and fillings, and made cosmetic changes to bring it back closer to Leonardo’s original.

O salvator mundi, this is one more wakeup call from you. Your silent and gentle honk has pierced my indifference. I’ve hidden your face behind countless ‘what would they say? Why should I bother them by revealing You?’. I’ve repainted your face by my many small inconsistencies, so much so that recognition of You is almost impossible.

This is my conclusion, my resolution;

I’ll restore your image that I carry within me, o salvator mundi. I’ll do a more meticulous work than what Modestini has done to your painting. So that the others can see and appreciate the real You. And I’ll take you beyond Hong Kong and New York. I’ll take you everywhere so that everyone can see you and be conquered by your charm and your grace. And I won’t look too far – I’ll start with my friends and family.


Little things

Cheers to the true polyglots

Pidgin, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Itsekiri, Edo, Esan, Efik, Gokana…; English, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, Russian, Dutch, Tagalog… name it. My friend has a four year old niece who already speaks four languages. My friend herself speaks six plus Italian which she is learning in order to move around in Rome. And she’s not the exception. Or maybe, it’s just how I see it.


Theatre @Ostia Antica

Now that our world has become as small as my Amaizar village in Isu, Imo state, we have opened up. Being Nigerian, I speak English. And Spanish and Italian. Unfortunately I don’t speak French, very important to communicate with Nigerian’s neighbouring countries. Nor do I speak Igbo {I’m beating my chest as I write this}. What hope is there for someone like me who is convinced that ‘family is key; family is everything’ and yet can’t hold a five minutes verbal conversation with my grandma?

This is where the true polyglot thingy comes in. In In Nnedim’s hut, I wrote

Grandma was recovering from a fresh bout of tears when I entered her almost dark room carrying some live coals for light. I made out her shiny head as she sat on the bed awaiting my approach, and I went to her. She hugged me tight, and I felt her tears trickling down from my shoulder before being soaked up by my blouse. ‘mma ndo,’ I said softly, ‘mother sorry.’ My Igbo language vocabulary was highly limited, and she knew it. But she had not invited me to speak. She just wanted to see her nnedim with a head like hers. 

Sometimes, we are so open that we are closed. We learn the languages, we organize our ideas. I’m going to say this and this and that. We stop listening because we are constructing our reply. We pat ourselves because we have delivered the speech. But we haven’t stopped to consider the most important element of communication – the listening end. How has it been translated and received.

A colleague is late to work and we don’t stop to wonder ‘why’. We just throw the ‘you’re late again’ to his / her face and gbam! They are on the defensive and they spit out their reply also. And the tension builds up…

Perhaps, I’m exaggerating this. Maybe it’s not an issue at all. To those who speak as many languages as they can, I say kudos! But I have my glass raised to the true polyglots; to those who speak what I like to call ‘the language of the heart’ – those who listen and listen well. Those who know how to be there for the others without necessarily being there physically. Those who look into faces and into eyes and see the pain and/or the joy; who know how to mourn with those who weep and how to dance with those who rejoice.

I am not one. Many times I’m the harsh judge putting an ‘X’ on every action that I deem unacceptable. But I want to be among the true polyglots. You?



Why worry?

Why worry
When you can pray.
You won’t be sorry,
For He won’t let you stray.
Just do your best,
And leave the rest.
He loves you to distraction
And He’ll add perfection
To that little best of yours.
Now, some may say;
‘Why, this crap is churchy.’
Well, i dare say;
‘Tis really everything!