Arrivederci Kraków! Italian artist says bye to the city with gift that recalls the city’s battle against Covid
Signifying hope and honouring the city’s battle against the pandemic, an Italian artist has said goodbye to Kraków by gifting the city an extraordinary installation titled Angel of Light.
Set to return to his native Italy after living in Poland for two decades, Enrico Muscetra first coined the idea for the sculpture in 2019. Deciding to leave following the death of his wife, Anna, the artist sought to leave a token of gratitude to the city as a parting gesture.
Speaking at its unveiling, he said: “I must express my gratitude. This sculpture is not only a gift that I give to the city, but expresses the gift that the city gave to me… Each day, this city gives me so much.”
Standing nearly a metre high, and with a wing span of 1.7 metres, the striking work has been attached to the wall behind so as to create the illusion of a floating angel. Illuminated at night, it was purposefully designed so as to play with forms of light and shadow, and in the process create the feeling of a living installation.
Jacek Majchrowski, the Mayor of Krakow, said: “We can read a number of emotions from this work – from pain and sadness to hope and comfort. These emotions were familiar to the city’s inhabitants during the height of the pandemic.”
Continuing, he added: “Such difficult and occasional traumatic moments in the history of this city have left ‘witnesses’: in Planty Park, we have the famous ‘lantern of the dead’ and we have the votive cross in the Church of St. Nicholas. In much the same way, Angel of Light will also be a ‘witness’ to another time that tested our city.”
Graceful and ethereal in its form, its location on the ulica Poselska side of the Wielopolski Palace was by no means incidental. Chosen after consultations between the artist and city authorities, its placement was picked on account of the area’s central yet discreet location.
Emphasising the symbolic nature of Muscetra’s work, the area was seen as the perfect spot for the angel. Moreover, it was seen as forming a core part of the city’s solution for reviving the area and transforming it from being a forgotten corner into a serene meeting point.
Robert Piaskowski, the Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Kraków for Culture, said: “placing sculptures in public space is a very responsible task that requires diligence, responsibility and awareness that we are leaving a witness to our understanding of the city and our way of thinking.
“[By placing a sculpture] we leave a message not only to those that will see it at this moment in time, but future generations. Yes, this sculpture has a genesis and a clear message,” he continued.
Casting his work in bronze, Muscetra has already transferred the copyright and property rights relating to the angel to the city for no fee.
First coming to the public’s attention in the 1970s after painting a series of dreamy murals around Milan, Muscetra later became known for sculptures such as ‘the Monument to the Urchin’ in Gallipoli, ‘the Man with a Big Heart’ in Martano and ‘the Annunciation’ in Aradeo.
More recently associated with Kraków, examples of the artist’s work can also be found in Wieliczka and on Lanckoroń’s market square.
Explaining his gift to the city, Muscetra added: “an angel is an idealistic figure, a human impulse linked to redemption, a projection of divinity that does not exist, but which we perceive each time we gaze towards infinity. In this way, we forget for the briefest of moments, our poor earthly condition.”