15 October 2017

The Last Judgment



In just a few years, Nicola Boccini has managed to elevate the importance of light as an applied art that gets its life from new, “contemporary” artisanal objects and animates the very material it is part and parcel of. A luminous material with infinite possibilities that enhances the space it is housed in more than any other substance, thus creating unexpected impressions and simple luminous images in dark spaces.

And now this prestigious commission: the contemporary re-interpretation of Hans Memling’s “Last Judgement” for the National Museum in Gdańsk where inspiration comes from the scene reflected off Michael’s armour. The masterpiece is a true, virtuous display of Memling’s incomparable skill of lustre, so characteristic of the Flemish. For Boccini, it is an extraordinary opportunity to render visible the passage of souls. The virtual movement of these souls, as they pass through a celestial dimension thanks to the transparency of bone china, accompanied by music and universal symbols of salvation. Memling was an innovator when it came to depicting nude male and female movement.

The hexagonal panels are made of bone china clay (a special kind of fine porcelain) by slip casting into a plaster mould. The “porcelain vein” technique consists of inserting copper wire about 3 mm into the bone china clay before the clay dries. The copper wire then melts and its vapours colour the bone china body with green lines.

All 22 panels are worked by hand, fired three times in a complete cycle, with only one firing at approximately 1.320° C.  In this procedure, Boccini has also been able to establish his theory that, when fired at a very high temperature, bone china clay first contracts and then swells (expand). This procedure resulted in perfectly translucent panels about 2 mm thick.

The panels create a framework with fragments and symbols from Memling’s painting, visual elements are rear-projected through the porcelain in different sequences of video mapping  images.

By using contemporary technology and materials, and by involving the visitors, whose photograph will be incorporated into the panel in real time, Boccini reinterprets the subject of the Last Judgement in the context of what he feels are the most important social problems, such as racism, terrorism and xenophobia (or immigration conflicts).

Two different artists, one in front of the other, a world apart but both unanimous in choosing free will as the only measure of justice for eternal life. Only man’s freedom to act can determine bliss or damnation.

Claudia Bottini





TVP Culture, Poland

Historical, Artistic and Technical Collaboration of:

Claudia Bottini, (IT) – Curator.
Gisella Gellini, (IT) – Professor of Light Art, Politecnico di Milano
Claudia Casali, (IT)  Director at International Ceramic Museum in Faenza
Małgorzata Posadzka, (PL) – Marketing manager at National Museum in G’dansk
Raffaele Bacchi, (IT) – Aerospace Eletronics Engineer
Robert Turło, (PL)- Concept and preparation of visualization
Marek Kuczyński, (PL)- Music composer
Slawomir Pultyn, (PL)- Live action pictures
Grażyna Rigall, (PL)- Painting structures
Michał Garnowski,  (PL)- VJ creation support
Aleksandra Kobielak, Krzysztof Czerny, (PL)- Scenic movement organizational support:
LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art, (PL)- artistic support
Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, (PL)- students of the Animation and Visualization Studio.
Art Ceramic School Romano Ranieri Deruta, (IT)– Logistic and management.
EKWC, European Keramic Work Centre, Oisterwijk (NL)- Materials and Equipment.