“Donna me prega”, the title of a series of paintings, is also the title of a poem by Guido Cavalcanti (Florence, ca.1300). In this poem the poet is asked for the characteristics of love, where it comes from and where it finds its home.
Although I have dedicated a series of paintings to this poem, all of my work is really a sign of love which originates from watching and thinking about what I see and about what I should do with my findings. You could see these paintings as an answer to the question of the muse who is my inspiration.
Because a lady asks me, I would tell
Of an affect that comes often and is fell
And is so overweening; Love by name.
E’en its deniers can now hear the truth,
I for the nonce to them that know it call,
Having no hope at all
that man who is base in heart
Can bear his part of wit
into the light of it,
And save they know’t aright from nature’s source
I have no will to prove Love’s course
Where he takes rest; who maketh him to be;
Or what his active virtu is, or what his force;
Nay, nor his very essence or his mode;
What his placation; why he is in verb,
Or if a man have might
To show him visible to men’s sight.
In memory’s locus taketh he his state Place
Formed there in manner as a mist of light
Upon a dusk that is come from Mars and stays.
Love is created, hath a sensate name,
His modus takes from soul, from heart his will;
From form seen doth he start, that, understood,
Taketh in latent intellect
As in a subject ready
place and abode,
Yet in that place it ever is unstill,
Spreading its rays, it tendeth never down
By quality, but is its own effect unendingly
Not to delight, but in an ardour of thought
That the base likeness of it kindleth not.
It is not virtu, but perfection’s source
Lying within perfection postulate
Not by the reason, but ‘tis felt, I say.
Beyond salvation, holdeth its judging force,
Maintains intention reason’s peer and mate;
Poor in discernment, being thus weakness’ friend,
Often his power meeteth with death in the end
Be he withstayed
or from true course
E’en though he meet not with hate or villeiny
Save that perfection fails, be it but a little;
Nor can man say he hath his life by chance
Or that he hath not stablished seigniory
Or loseth power, e’en lost to memory.
He comes to be and is when will’s so great
It twists itself from out all natural measure;
Leisure s adornment puts he then never on,
Never thereafter, but moves changing state,
Moves changing colour, or to laugh or weep
Or wries the face with fear and little stays,
Yea, resteth little yet is found the most
Where folk of worth be host.
And his strange property sets sighs to move
And wills man look into unformed space
Rousing there thirst that breaketh into flame.
None can imagine love that knows not love;
Love doth not move, but draweth all to him;
Nor doth he turn for a whim to find delight
Nor to seek out, surely, great knowledge or slight.
Look drawn from like,
delight maketh certain in seeming
Nor can in covert cower, beauty so near,
Not yet wild-cruel as darts,
So hath man craft from fear in such his desire
To follow a noble spirit, edge, that is, and point to the dart,
Though from her face indiscernible;
He, caught, falleth plumb the spike of the targe.
Who well proceedeth, form not seeth, following his own emanation.
There, beyond colour, essence set apart,
In midst of darkness light light giveth forth
Beyond all falsity, worthy of faith, alone
That in him solely is compassion born.
Safe may’st thou go my canzon whither thee pleaseth
Thou art so fair attired that every man and each
Shall praise thy speech
So we have sense or glow with reason’s fire,
To stand with other hast thou no desire.
For this project I also made a number of sketches in gouache and drawings, of which these are but a few.