Italy

Pilgrimage to a Forgotten Ancient Church in Matera, Italy

Matera is in southern Italy (just inland from the arch in the boot-shaped country). In the later classical period and through to the Middle Ages it has been occupied by Romans, Lombards, Byzantines, Germans and Normans and the handover was usually less than peaceful. The area is known for its underground churches, rather like the catacombs but dating much later. My former teacher when I was studying the academic method in Florence, Matt Collins, now lives there. Matt is an American and one of the few people around that I know who has applied his academic training to painting in the baroque style (as distinct from the 19th century). As well as oils, he is an expert in the technique of fresco and runs regular classes in Italy teaching this ancient and very durable technique.  The underground churches of Matera contain many frescoes and they have survived the Romans and all the waves of conquerers, only to be damaged recently by modern-day vandals and graffiti artist. What a shame!  Matt describes them in his blog and it is his pilgrimage that the title refers to. The painting shown is Matt's landscape of the approach to the entrance of two underground churches. To read more about his, go to his article by following the link here. You can also see more of his work there too.

 

The photograph above is of the entrance to the ravine, and below, of the entrance to one of the churches in the hillside.

Inside with the apse with niche and altar

And finally, just if any are wondering what Matt's art is like here is a beautiful still life displaying the classic baroque stylistic element that readers of this blog will recognise - the variation in focus;  the depletion of colour and reduction of contrast away from the natural foci of the composition.