From Renaissance to Contemporary: Vincenzo Foppa and Kimsooja in the Cappella Portinari of the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio

Kimsooja
Kimsooja, To Breathe / Respirare, 2018. View of the permanent installation for the Portinari Chapel, Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio, Milan, curated by Giovanni Iovane. Photo: Paola Di Bello. The installation was donated by the artist to the Chiostri di Sant'Eustorgio in 2021. Thanks to Luciano Formica, Head of Cultural Initiatives of the Museum. Courtesy Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan and Kimsooja Studio

Walking through Milan, heading south along the cobblestone Corso di Porta Ticinese that ends with a Neoclassical gate, we arrive in Piazza Sant’Eustorgio. Lifting our gaze, we first see the sky criss-crossed with tram wires and then the top of the bell tower where we find, instead of a cross, the star that guided the Magi.

The eight-pointed star on top of the bell tower of the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, Milan, January, 2021

One winter’s day in early 2018, on a visit to the basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, the South Korean artist Kimsooja glimpsed a new chapter of the project for which she is known the world over. To Breathe / Respirare is a minimalist work, made up solely of light, that connects churches and institutions: from the Chapelle des Augustins in Poitiers to the cathedral of Saint-Étienne in Metz, up to the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid. In each of these places, Kimsooja covered the windows with a special transparent film that filtered the sun’s rays, revealing a spectrum of colours that changed from dawn to dusk.

The square of Sant’Eustorgio and the main facade of the homonymous Basilica, Milan, January, 2021

In the Cappella Portinari of the Milanese basilica, the Renaissance frescoes by Vincenzo Foppa are literally invested with a new light that is not only a symbol of the divine but also an impalpable architectural element determinant in the relationship of the body with the space. The work, which the artist recently donated to this historic place of rest and meditation for pilgrims and which will remain as a permanent installation, is an invitation to a form of aesthetic contemplation that expands the spiritual experience and renews the encounter between physical and metaphysical, ancient and contemporary.

Kimsooja, To Breathe / Respirare, 2018. View of the permanent installation for the Portinari Chapel, Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, Milan, curated by Giovanni Iovane. Photo: Paola Di Bello. The installation was donated by the artist to the Chiostri di Sant’Eustorgio in 2021. Thanks to Luciano Formica, Head of Cultural Initiatives of the Museum. Courtesy Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan and Kimsooja Studio

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FrescosLombardyMilanReligious architectureRenaissance