Caravaggio è stato uno straordinario esempio di grandissimo artista, che ha raggiunto la maestria nella sua arte ma che non ha avuto interesse a trasmettere ad altri forse perchè impegnato a confrontarsi con le sue derive caratteriali tormentose.
Il testo che segue è un capitolo tratto del libro Il Tuo Rinascimento, di Maura Garau, e ci racconta alcuni episodi della vita di Caravaggio e di come le sue emozioni ingestibili lo abbiano portato a rovinarsi. E cosa possiamo fare noi quando proviamo delle forti emozioni che ci sovrastano?Buona lettura!
La Rabbia e la Scelta
Nel capitolo precedente (passo 6) abbiamo parlato dell’importanza di lasciar fluire le nostre emozioni liberamente, per ascoltarle ed aiutarci a diventare più consapevoli di chi siamo, di cosa abbiamo bisogno e di quale direzione prendere. In questo capitolo riflettiamo su come gestire un’emozione che ci sovrasta e ci fa perdere il controllo di noi stessi. Riflettiamo su come esercitare la nostra capacità di scelta. Vediamo cosa possiamo imparare da Caravaggio a questo proposito.
La vita di questo grande artista, trascorsa fra il 1571 e il 1610, è stata drammatica ed estrema, proprio come le sue opere. Giulio Mancini, un biografo contemporaneo di Caravaggio, nel trattato Considerazioni sulla pittura ci racconta che già da giovane Caravaggio aveva un carattere stravagante e focoso: “Studiò in fanciullezza per quattro o cinque anni in Milano, con diligenza ancorché di quando in quando facesse qualche stravaganza causata da quel calore e spirito così grande”.
La frase “qualche stravaganza causata da quel calore e spirito così grande” potremmo tradurla come “Caravaggio aveva davvero un caratteraccio”. Si infiammava per poco e non esitava ad usare la violenza. Fu spesso coinvolto in risse e denunciato per aggressione e possesso di armi. Ospite a Roma del cardinale del Monte fu capace di aggredirne un amico che lo denunciò. Fu anche denunciato da un servo di un’osteria per avergli tirato in faccia un piatto con dei carciofi. Frequentava i bassifondi, dove trovava intrattenimento e ispirazione per i suoi quadri.
Spesso fu giudicato irriverente e offensivo per avere utilizzato prostitute e poveri barboni come modello per le madonne e i santi dei suoi dipinti. A causa del suo carattere e delle sue reazioni violente dovette spesso scappare e andarsene dal luogo in cui abitava.
Nel 1606 uccise un uomo per un litigio durante una partita di pallacorda, (un gioco antico che nella sua evoluzione ha dato origine al tennis). In seguito a questo omicidio fu condannato alla decapitazione; chiunque lo avesse incontrato avrebbe potuto ucciderlo diventando esecutore della pena. Così era la legge al tempo. Riuscì a scappare da Roma grazie ai suoi contatti con la potente famiglia Colonna e poté rifugiarsi a Napoli dove si trattenne continuando a dipingere in maniera prolifica. In seguito partì per Malta e sempre per intercessione della famiglia Colonna riuscì ad entrare nell’ordine dei Cavalieri di San Giovanni o Cavalieri di Malta. La sua speranza era, tramite l’ordine, di ottenere un perdono dal Papa per far rimuovere la condanna che pesava sul suo capo e poter tornare a Roma. Si trattenne a Malta continuando a dipingere ogni volta che poteva.
Nel 1608 gli fu offerta la carica di Cavaliere, che gli avrebbe garantito l’impunità e la possibilità di tornare a Roma. Ma in seguito ad un litigio con un membro di rango superiore, i Cavalieri espulsero Caravaggio dall’Ordine, con disonore. Morì dimenticato e solo, su una spiaggia, nel tentativo di tornare a Roma, proprio quando pare che il Papa gli avesse concesso il perdono. Caravaggio aveva picchi emozionali molto forti e un’ira incontrollabile. Questo turbinio di passioni si riflette nei suoi dipinti, a tratti estremamente dolci e seducenti a tratti oscuri e angoscianti.
|Michelangelo Merisi detto Caravaggio, Musici,1597, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NewYork
Nel meraviglioso quadro I
musici notiamo la bellezza, la dolcezza e la sensualità nei visi e nei corpi di
questi giovani. L’atmosfera è serena, provocante, rotonda, morbida e invitante.
Caravaggio ritrae anche se stesso fra i musici. È il terzo a partire da
sinistra. Si ritrae diverse volte all’interno dei suoi dipinti. Incarna
profondamente la sua pittura ed è totalmente compenetrato in ogni sua azione.
Ne Il diniego di San Pietro troviamo tutta la drammaticità dei contrasti che a
ragione ci fanno definire Caravaggio come “il pittore delle luci e delle
ombre”. Consapevole dell’impatto scenico, terribile e quasi angosciante, che
riusciva ad ottenere con la tecnica dei contrasti, l’artista aveva l’abitudine
di porre nel suo studio delle luci radenti per illuminare i soggetti e per
creare forti effetti drammatici.
|Michelangelo Merisi detto Caravaggio, Il diniego di San Pietro,1610, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NewYork
La rabbia e la scelta
• Abbandona l’abitudine
di reprimere le tue emozioni, riconoscile piuttosto e se necessario
• Valuta se senti di
avere un’emozione predominante che disturba la tua persona o la tua vita.
Valuta cosa potresti fare per trasformare un’emozione disturbante. Quali
opzioni di trasformazione hai? Quali scelte puoi fare in proposito? Quanta
• Valuta cosa ti aiuta
quando ti sembra di non avere opzioni né scelta. Dove puoi trovare delle
risorse? Come puoi ampliare i tuoi punti di vista? Puoi essere più flessibile?
Il Tuo Rinascimento, 8 Passi per Volersi Bene e Rinnovarsi.
On April 9, 2022 at the Tora Kan Dōjō, Sensei Paolo
Taigō Kōnin Spongia gave a lecture on the definition of 'Maestro' (Master,
He offered us numerous insights on the importance of having a Teacher in order to get to know ourselves and deepen our practice, and he stimulated several reflections on the qualities that a Teacher should have.
During the lecture it emerged that the fact of being very good in a specific field, or a great expert in a discipline, is not necessarily a guarantee of being a good Teacher.
There may be men who achieve excellence in an art and therefore 'mastery', and who, for this reason, can be called 'Master' (mastro, maestro ...) but who have neither the ability nor the interest to pass down to others their own experience.
The 'Master' - in the sense of someone who also provides to pass down (transmit) the experience - is both 'excellent' in the artistic expression and in the passing down of the same, because he knows the pedagogical and educational strategies necessary for this passing down to take place. Strategies that in most cases he has acquired as a disciple in the education and 'transmission' received from his own Master.
Caravaggio was an extraordinary example of a great artist, who achieved mastery in his art but who had no interest in passing it down to others, perhaps because he was too busy dealing with his own tormenting soul.
The following text is a chapter taken from the book Your Renaissance, by Maura Garau, and tells us about some episodes in Caravaggio's life and how his unmanageable emotions led him to ruin. And what can we do when we feel strong emotions that overwhelm us?
Rage and Choice
In the previous chapter (Step 6) we talked about the importance
of letting our emotions flow freely, listening to them and allowing them to
help us become more aware of who we are, what we need and what direction to
take. In this chapter, we will reflect on how to manage an emotion that overwhelms
us and causes us to lose control of ourselves, and how to exercise our ability
to choose. In this regard, let us see what we can learn from Caravaggio.
The life of this great artist, who lived between 1571
and 1610, was dramatic and extreme, just like his artwork. Giulio Mancini, a
contemporary biographer of Caravaggio, tells us in his treatise Considerations
on painting that, already as a young man, Caravaggio had an extravagant and
fiery character. He states that: “He studied diligently for four or five years in
Milan, even though from time to time his fiery spirit released some of its
heat, causing him to commit some rash or extravagant deed.”
In other words, “his spirit released some of its heat”
really translates into, “Caravaggio had a terrible temper”. He tended to lose
his temper over little things and did not hesitate to use violence. He was
often involved in brawls and was sued for assault and possession of weapons.
While a guest at the palace of the Cardinal del Monte in Rome, he actually
attacked a friend of the Cardinal, who later sued him. He was also sued by a
waiter at an inn for having thrown a plate of artichokes in his face.
He frequented the slums where he found entertainment
and inspiration for his paintings. He was often judged irreverent and offensive
for having used prostitutes as models for the Madonnas depicted in his
paintings or poor tramps as models for the saints.
Because of his character and violent reactions, he
often had to run away and leave the place where he was living. In 1606 he
killed a man in a quarrel during a game of pallacorda (an ancient ball game
that eventually evolved into tennis). Following the murder, he was sentenced to
death by beheading. Such was the law at the time, anyone who came across him
could carry out the sentence. He managed to escape from Rome, thanks to his
contacts with the powerful Colonna family, and he was able to take refuge in
Naples where he continued to paint prolifically. He then left for Malta and,
again through the intercession of the Colonna family, he managed to enter the
Order of the Knights of Saint John, otherwise known as the Knights of Malta.
His hope was to, through the Order, obtain forgiveness from the Pope, have the
sentence that weighed on his head removed, and be able to return to Rome. In
the meantime, he remained in Malta and continued to paint as much as he could.
In 1608 he was offered the position of Knight, which would
have guaranteed him impunity and the possibility of returning to Rome. However,
following a quarrel with a senior member, the Knights expelled Caravaggio from
the Order with dishonor. He died forgotten and alone on a beach while attempting
to return to Rome, just when it seems the Pope had granted him forgiveness.
Caravaggio had very strong emotional peaks, along with
an uncontrollable anger. This whirl of passions is reflected in his paintings,
which are at times sweet and seductive, and at others obscure and distressing.
In the wonderful painting Musicians, we see the beauty, sweetness and
sensuality of the faces and bodies of the young boys.
known as Caravaggio, Musicians, 1597,
The Metropolitan Museum
of Art, New York
The atmosphere is serene, provocative, harmonious,
soft and inviting. Caravaggio also portrays himself among the
musicians. He is the third
from the left. He depicted himself in his paintings several times. He
deeply embodied his painting. They were totally intertwined with all his
Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, The denial of Saint Peter, 1610,
The Metropolitan Museum
of Art, New York
In The Denial of Saint Peter we can observe
Caravaggio’s dramatic use of contrast, which earned him the name “the painter
of lights and shadows.” Aware of the dramatic, terrible and almost distressing
impact that he managed to achieve with the technique of contrast, he used to
place oblique lights in his studio, positioning them close to his subjects to illuminate
them and to create strong, dramatic effects. Here we see the moment in which
Peter denies having known Jesus. The woman is reporting him to the guard saying
that Peter was a follower of Christ, that she had seen him among the apostles,
but he denies it, three times. He says he never met him. It looks like a cinematic
close-up. The lighting speaks for the
characters. The emotion of the moment is tangible.
Rage and Choice
Towards the end of your wonderful barefoot walk down the
velvety moss path, in the distance you see some people heading away from their
picnic spot, leaving the remains near the stream. You become angry, you want to
walk up to them to tell them to take their garbage away but you cannot run on
the path without shoes because now the moss has given way to rocks and you
don't have time to put your shoes back on and reach those disrespectful
feel angry. What are
you going to do?
Caravaggio was a
passionate painter. After his
death he was willingly forgotten by his contemporaries. Rediscovered in the
twentieth century, he is still able to transmit strong emotions to those who
look at his paintings. Nevertheless, in his personal life it seems that he
could not manage his emotions at all. In particular, he had no way of choosing
if he would react with an angry, emotional and disruptive reaction or with a
balanced, effective and appropriate action. For many people, some emotions such
as fear, anxiety and anger are difficult to control.
What exactly does it mean
to control an emotion? Is
control really the best solution? In the previous chapter we stressed the
importance of expressing our emotions so as not to create barriers within us.
Control is a barrier that eventually leads to repression. Repressing a strong
emotion is not a good idea. Instead of being externalized and released it
remains inside us, a pent up pressure that can create imbalances both on a
psychological and physical level. If controlling and repressing certain emotions
becomes a habit, our body will absorb them at first but, after a while, it will
begin to let off steam in the form of discomfort, or worse, illness. Idiomatic
expressions such as “I’m so angry I could explode” or “they are so angry that
smoke is coming out of their ears” give us the idea of a person who is
suffering from their own furious rage. So, what should we do? Strong emotions
must always be expressed, as expression frees us and helps us understand what
we are feeling, who we are and in what direction we must move. However, we can
choose whether to direct the emotion violently against another person or
against ourselves, or we can decide to transform it and let it flow in order to
then be able to reason with more balance and serenity. For example, if
Caravaggio had gone for a vigorous run or had released his rage by shouting
instead of stabbing his teammate, his life would have probably had a very
Controlling and suppressing an emotion is easier than transforming it. We are used to controlling and repressing. We are not used to transforming. Transformation requires the ability to choose; to weigh the different options. In order to allow ourselves to value our choices, we must be flexible. In the same way that our elastic, flexible tendons and ligaments allow us to turn, bend and stretch in the direction we want, our mind’s elasticity and flexibility allow us to transform a situation and to choose the most appropriate course of action. Transformation is the way to liberation. For example, if we are overcome with anger, we can choose to express it vocally through a scream, or physically by taking a long run or a cold shower. Then we can silently observe what is left of that emotion. We can observe how we feel. We can decide how to handle the situation. We can decide with a clear head and make a decision from deep inside us, gaining strength from our solid core. Observation is always the first key to becoming more aware and being able to transform our situations and our life. Observation brings awareness, creating options, choice and transformation. In the beginning, this dynamic takes some time. It seems strange, unusual. We have to practice it. After some practice, the transformation process will become quicker and smoother and will be more liberating and soothing. It will become second nature.
embrace your true self and renew your life
• Let go of the habit of
repressing your emotions. Instead,
recognize them and if necessary, transform them.
• Notice if there is a predominant emotion that is disturbing
your soul or your life.
• Evaluate what you could do to transform that disturbing
emotion. What options do you have for transformation? What choices can you make
regarding the emotion? How much flexibility do you have?
• Evaluate what helps you when you feel you have no options
or choices. Where can you find resources? How can you broaden your point of view? Can you be
More information on the book Your Renaissance on
© Tora Kan Dōjō
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