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Atlas of Contemporary Art

(Atlante dell’Arte Contemporanea)

International Section


Published by De Agostini


Raffaella Corcione Sandoval



The Italian-Venezuelan Raffaella Corcione Sandoval was born in Caracas in 1951. From the family of her mother, Aurora Sandoval, she inherited a particular attraction towards spiritual and ultra-sensitive matter. Her grandmother, in fact, was a profound connoisseur of the ritual practices of the indigenous Venezuelan people, an element that will recur in her figurative language. Her artistic training began in Caracas, studying at the Studio Sancho School of Art. After moving to Italy, she perfected her skills thanks to her acquaintance with the painters Novella Parigini and Emilio Maria Avitabile through the famous shipowner Achille Lauro, a great friend of her father's, who became her tutor when he died. The '70s saw the debut of Our Artist, in a personal exhibition held in Naples at the "Circolo della Stampa" in 1975.


Today the Venezuelan author is an established artist of international renown, her polyform language is not limited to painting but includes sculpture, fashion, design, performance and photography. Corcione Sandoval is also a prolific writer with several publications translated into multiple languages. Understanding her aesthetics means stripping away the natural logical awareness of the sensitive world to undertake a cathartic journey within a universe steeped in an embracing religious syncretism, in addition to the aforementioned indigenous heritage of her land of origin, a spiritual coexistence between the Christian tradition and Eastern mysticism.


In the '80s she attended the three-year course of Theology at the Jesuit University of Naples, moreover she was particularly inspired by charismatic figures such as Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and Mother Teresa of Calcutta; however, the meeting that will prove decisive for her maturation is with the Indian master Sathya Sai Baba. From a purely visual analysis, Corcione Sandoval's pictorial style approaches the European informal school of the twentieth century. The pigment is spread out creating agglomerates of matter without any point of structural and figurative reference, tracing soft spirals or uniform expanses that mark the space available. The technique used, a mixture of colors combined with powdered plaster, gives her productions a melodious tactile aspect, with soft "crystallized" effects aimed at creating elaborate luminous effects. In her informal work, light plays a role of primary importance as much as matter, a reference to that divine source which is the result of her solid preparation in the theological field. The circular and spiral forms of the canvases represent a reference to the iconography of the Dharmachakra also known as the Wheel of Dharma, symbol of the eightfold path undertaken by Gautama Buddha in his path to enlightenment. A philosophical-figurative element that brings together Hinduism and Buddhism, the Dharma is the unifying principle, it is reason, supreme truth and justice. Ascribable to the "return to the One" of Neoplatonic thought, it is the ultimate ambition of every individual's journey, the reunion with oneself that becomes the final reunion with the whole of creation.


The renewal of the oriental graphic milieu returns in the artist's activity as a stylist who inserts the Sutra, long scrolls bearing the precepts of the Hindu religion in Sanskrit, elevating them to sophisticated ornamental elements. In her painting, the human figure represents an exception to a mainly informal genre. The most investigated subject is the woman here understood as avatar, that is the physical form assumed by Hindu gods called to perform the task of bringing balance in the dharma. The Venezuelan author makes this additional element her own, representing her pictorial alter ego in women with a Fauvist trait, where chromatic verisimilitude leaves room for pure freedom of expression. The anthropomorphic subjects also act as a vehicle for the observer in order to identify with the constant cathartic research that is at the base of her production, as in Viaggiatore in un mare di tenebre (Traveler in a sea of darkness), a metaphysical reinterpretation of the famous Friedrich iconography.


In her sculptural production, Corcione Sandoval remains consistent with the themes of religiosity and mysticism. In 2005 she creates the Sindone Partenopea (Partenopean Shroud) exposed for the first time at the Complesso Monumentale Archeologico San Pietro a Corte, in Salerno. A clear reference to the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino, made for the Chapel of San Severo in Naples, the artist reinterprets it in an unprecedented way using a technique of her own invention based on crystallized fabric. The main theme of the work is the simulacrum intended as a semblance of life and death at the same time, as it is known that Christ triumphed over death, God stripped of his spiritual essence to dress in flesh and abandon his mortal remains redeeming humanity, in the promise of his second coming. The author reflects on the meaning of the salvific sacrifice underlining the boundary between spirit and matter, placing the physical body as a representation of matter sublimated by love.


Each of Corcione Sandoval's works is not to be understood as a unique object in itself but as part of a path of redemption that the observer decides to undertake by browsing through the corpus. The artistic production therefore appears as an instrument of awakening of the "human Conscience", rising to a transcendent function, its inspiration is based on a sublime theological purpose: meditation, finalized in the rediscovery of the Self and of its own relationship with the Divine.

January 2022

"The Truth is the Whole"


Cosmos, Ecstasy, Unity in the artistic production

of Raffaella Corcione Sandoval


by Attilio Scarcella


“He who seeks the Light

needs the eyes of the mind

              ... since in himself he carries the Darkness".




It seems to me that this is the original source around which the cultural path of the artist Raffaella Corcione Sandoval rises and unfolds.

A thematic scenario whose firmly philosophical background has Hegelian thought as its closest horizon; and yet, this horizon penetrates, excavates, finds its roots in the Corpus Hermeticum: a collection of writings on a philosophical-religious topic that circulated in the Greco-Roman world in the first centuries A.D. and that referred to a cosmogony centered on the creation of man and on the conditions of his spiritual liberation. They were attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, a legendary character of the pre-classical age, revered as a master of wisdom and traditionally believed to be the author of the Corpus himself.


Therefore, the Hegelian principle "The Truth is the Whole" only intertwines the artistic and cultural paths of Raffaella Corcione Sandoval in a veiled and reflexive way, since it specifically refers to another authoritative figure of philosophical thought of the third century A.D., Plotinus, who was the first to develop the idea that the image created by the artist is never a simple reproduction of the physical world. Rather, it is an opening to the original model of the Nous, a vibration of "wave-particles" - we would say today - of the Form of the Divine Intellect in which the artist participates intuitively through the Δαίμων (godly) present in him and by virtue of a revelation received as a gift.


Indeed, it is within this dense enigmatic post-classical philosophical frame of the imperial period that Raffaella Corcione Sandoval's artistic and cultural itinerary is inserted, whose invisible thread of eclectic matrix unites the flow of her strong philosophical feeling to the Corpus Hermeticum and the thought of Plotinus.


While passing through the inextricable magma of Hegelian idealism, Raffaella Sandoval does not accept the all-embracing systematic horizon of "The True is the Whole" but, more specifically, she shares the metaphysical horizon of the Plotinian One as "incessant enérgheia"(energy), a living unity that embraces in itself every possible power, that overflows and inexhaustibly enriches itself with its own manifestation and expression.


An unapproachable flow that never rests in itself but eternally manifests itself and appears, the tremor of the Plotinian "One" and of the Corpus Hermeticum vibrates among the most secret and arcane abysses of the Artist Raffaella, digs into the deep, dizzying mazes of her soul, crosses the most ancestral mythological labyrinths to elaborate them and express them, and finally contextualize them within her constant uninterrupted artistic activity. This is in accordance with the new cultural frontiers of research, in tune with the most recent achievements of scientific experimentation and finally in the light of the new principle of "wave-particle" quantum mechanics.


It is on this huge introspective frame of studies, experiments and cultural contaminations that the artist grafted her personal inner weltanschauung (worldview) according to which life is a journey where the goal is "Truth" but the main road is "Beauty".


Hence the refined production of canvases, sculptures, designs vibrant with vitality, unbridled energy, unsustainable light. Hence, that aesthetic fervor which, like Plotinus's One, overflows in Raffaella Corcione Sandoval into the boundless branches of her vast productive activity as a writer, painter, sculptor who has achieved international goals and dimensions.


Among the main exhibitions and art reviews, the important exhibition of 2017 is worth mentioning: "Spoleto Arte Meets New York", Hotel Michelangelo, New York, United States; participation in the Biennale delle Nazioni - Venice Art Expo 2018. The exhibition "Emotions on display - Armenia meets the world", international collective 2019, organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Italian Government with the Armenian Embassy by Giacomo Carlo Tropeano in the Museum Space of Castel dell'Ovo in Naples. “The Italian Masters of Color”, Itinerant Exhibition Matera -Taranto- Rocca Imperiale- Dubai- Rome, 2019; "Ancient Pompeii Golden Faun International Grand Prize", Palazzo Maffei Marescotti, Vatican, Rome, Accademia dei Dioscuri, 2019; “Dubai International Prize”, Itinerant Exhibition - Dubai -Taranto- Matera- Rocca Imperiale- Rome, 2019.


In her creative and most recent book entitled "Ella and the Tree of Mira", Raffaella Corcione Sandoval has culturally and artistically lavished her own commitment and part of her artistic activity to testify that there is a substantial harmony between the infinitely small and the infinitely large; between spirit and matter, protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks, stars, galaxies, constellations, on the one hand, and the inexpressible lightness of being; on the other, as a demonstration of the most recent discoveries of contemporary physics that the author welcomes and makes her own, transferring principles and theoretical postulates of quantum mechanics in her paintings, sculptures, books through the study and the path of another way, the way of the heart, addressed to "spiritual knowledge and self-realization". Truly original passion and enthusiasm that evoke deep fascination with mystical philosophies,"Eastern Wisdom", the Corpus Hermeticum and the disconcerting intuition of the One of Plotinus.


Present this year at the pro Biennale di Venezia 2021 with 11 very important works, some of which develop the theme of "Infinitely Small, Infinitely Large", Raffaella Corcione Sandoval has always dealt with the cosmic-stellar origins of humanity and the global and structural interconnection between the various elements of the universe, as in the words of Hermes Trismegistus evoked in the "Corpus": "As above, so below", thus re-proposing the Heraclitean principle of the Universe: "All things are One", to underline the inseparable relationship of human nature with the roots of our stellar origins.


And it is precisely from this specific dimension of the invisible splendor of the One that the Artist moves in search of a deeper reality where the eternal becoming of opposites, of contraries, is recomposed and pacified in a superior harmony, which explains the unity of the Universe. A reality that Heraclitus calls Logos, God: "God is day-night, winter-summer, war-peace, satiety-hunger". A reality that is Unity of the Different and, at the same time, Diversity of the One. A reality in which the Universe is only the most advanced point of a superior cosmic Intelligence and man is the evolution of a flow of stellar matter. We are but the incarnation and the final project of a Universe grown up to self-consciousness, of which man is the spearhead. After 13 billion years we have begun to understand our origin: we are stellar matter meditating on the stars.


And so, through the changing abysses of the human soul, where the memory of the "Beginning" rises and stirs, Raffaella Corcione Sandoval retraces mythological temple routes of the most ancient civilizations and populations. From the Babylonians to the Phoenicians to the Sumerians to the Egyptians. She studies the sacred texts of the various religions, the wonderful world of colors, symbols, myths, legends, narratives that have immortalized them. She depicts their gods Isis, Ninurta, Harmonia, Astarte, Nisaba, and with her many creative expressions, from painting to sculpture to the novel, brings them to light to transfer them through her art to us.


It is, therefore, through the paths of the mystical and the mythological routes of ancient civilizations that Raffaella Corcione mysteriously enters into our inner sphere, stimulates creativity, and increases the capacity of understanding for those who are in tune with her artistic production. She explores and reaches, finally, a mystical as well as aesthetic vision of life that allows her to communicate with her own spiritual self and to conceive Art, not only as a great educational and evolutionary model, but also as a vehicle of Beauty, of liberation, of the awakening of "human consciousness".


In fact, what is beauty for the artist if not the visible representation of a feeling, of a vibration that has within itself the mantra of revealed truth?


The work of the artist, according to Raffaella Corcione, must not be that of pursuing solutions but of remaining within the infinite opening of the ring, in order to uninterruptedly deepen its mystery.   Because the artist is only the one who knows how to create enigmas, to permeate mysteries, and certainly not the one who proposes to give concise solutions.

In all the artistic production that accompanies the numerous and articulated paths of Raffaella Corcione, what strikes us most is precisely the halo of mystery, the transit of life that flees and abandons us like water between the fingers. So all that remains is to set out towards a "Beyond", far from the closed spaces of rationality and concept, to place oneself, like the Artist, on the track of the One, of that invisible perfection which, even in the incompleteness of daily life, beats within us, is emotion and at the same time the vertigo of a single thought, whose horizon of life "one day will stop in the sky of the world... Like a star!"


Raffaella Corcione Sandoval tells us all this, along the unstoppable path that leads to her art. Undoubtedly, one thing is certain. As an artist she has understood that a work of art, a painting, a sculpture, an engraving or a tapestry, in order to become immortal, must go beyond the limits of the human without worrying about common sense or the logic that the spectator would like to introduce at all costs.


And so it is - in the singular game of the instant, which rises and sinks, gushes out and is consumed among the abysses of the soul – as it is with the fate of contraries: of Darkness-Light, Concord-Discord, Truth-Deception, Hate-Love, Chaos-Cosmos, that it rediscovers the sealed and undivided time of the Unity of the Different, of the Diversity of the One; that it regains the momentum to resume the routes of Sirius, Vega, Alpha Centauri to plough through the spaces and time of the Infinitely Small, of the Infinitely Large.

Of Time that destroys and that preserves.

June 2021

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