Mustafa Sabbagh reflects on the meaning of Freedom embodied in Ebe di Antonio Canova - a statuary masterpiece of classicism housed in the San Domenico Museum Complex – and with his well-known style places it within a contemporary context.
While Canova acted by removing, working on a block of marble to draw out the goddess trapped in the rock, Sabbagh cuts through the light to free the woman trapped in the canon.
Proud, solemn, compact. Soaked in black, smoothed with shade, Sabbagh’s Hebe abandons the plasticity of the pose to focus on herself. The draping of the fabric – no longer a decoration, but rather comfort – is a continuum with the wrinkles of her skin, mapping a lifetime consumed in her sacred carnality and exalted through the artist’s act.
Our gaze, as spectators and voyeurs, no longer needs to be turned upwards because Sabbagh’s Hebe – the eternal metaphor of Freedom – has at last taken on a human scale. Noble as a goddess, divine as a woman, granite-like as she consciously abandons the blinding white for the deepest black, pre-packaged perfection for uniqueness.
This is Freedom, for the artist and for the man: to sit down, remove your clothes, close your eyes and, finally, look at yourself.