Living in a city that is often populated by tourists, I instinctively avoid the hot spot attractions, despite their beauty. Even after living practically down the street from the Vatican Museum for 14 years, I still had only been inside once. This area is always littered with lines wrapping around the fortress-like walls, mad swarms of people at entrances, and a plethora of tour groups and vendors. But, post-covid, it is unrecognizable.
The halls and entryways are now wide open, not a single moment of waiting. The ancient walls are in full view, baking in the sun with no one’s shadow upon them. I was ready to maximize the moment with a special artist date.
The empty galleries of the Vatican Museums were almost dreamlike. I passed the morning floating through the great halls, not as a hunter, but more like a radar – taking in and picking up any gorgeous nuance that entered my eye. Magnificent details suddenly came out of every corner like never before.
The first room to truly slow down my steps was the Gallery of Maps, a stupendous room with large painted insets of ancient maps, each depicting a different region of Italy. Studying their marvelous typography and iconography, I was mesmerized by the elaborate embellishments. One particular detail – the word Mare – appeared in my newest Iconic digital painting.
Inevitably, I found my way to the normally crowd-entrenched Raffaello room, which, like the Sistine Chapel, never disappoints.
However, the true magic for me occurred in the rooms of contemporary art. Here, I found myself completely alone, with only a security guard or two in various rooms. I reveled in modernist interpretations of religious themes, especially considering their historical contexts – the age of science and information, when the secular is dominant. Abstract and ethereal works, focusing on color, light and the spiritual aspects of the stories, instead of literal narratives.
It truly was a magical experience to wander these halls in a non-linear way. With all that has happened in these months, these passages of solace and beauty are even more precious to behold.