Grand Herbier D´Ombres: Lourdes de Castro
It was starting to snow in Pennabilli and I was gazing at the snow falling on the almond trees around the house when the Grand Herbier d'ombres arrived. It is a book with the shadows of many field herbs, by the painter Lourdes Castro, a great Portuguese artist who reproduces shadows of people or other forms of life. I looked at the embroideries of the snow and then at the pages of the book.
At one point, in the white of the valley, I saw dark spots rising from my memory. They were the shadows that passed across the ceiling of my room on the day I returned from prison in Germany, and I, in those reflections, tried to recognize my countrymen. Then I saw the valley, beyond the window, crossed by the great shadow of the obelisk in St. Peter's Square, on an August day, when Rome appeared to me deserted. And yet, the tourists were out in the open, in the shadow of that obelisk they huddled.
I suddenly thought of the beautiful August days with Andrei Tarkovski when we were working on the film Nostalgia, in Bagno Vignoni. The small Tuscan village has, in the square, a lake of hot water creating clouds of steam that mist, like a medieval world. It is in these waters that Catherine of Siena bathed her body and the words of her prayer. One morning we entered the small church, on the side of the street that skirts the great lake. We sat on a wooden bench to enjoy that abandoned silence. We discovered that the beam of morning light coming from a high window stamped on the interior wall, next to us, a small wild plant growing on the terrace brought by the wind, under the small stained glass window. A bush of uncertain shadows that became decoration in that plastered and humble plaster. Andrei and I stayed for some time contemplating these flickering images that brought us deep reflections. At a certain point, we seemed to smell a mint scent in the air. We immediately got up to discover that image on the wall and to see if the fragrance came from that shadow. So it was.
That's why I've now brought Lourdes Castro's shadows closer to my nose, which have a lively and mysterious presence capable of making those who look at them grow magical thoughts.
[Tonino Guerra – translated by Mário Rui de Oliveira]
- 22,2 x 28,6 cm
- Portuguese / English
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