Castellano         English
An unexpected shift

The verb “to fall” almost always implies disgrace, an unexpected shift from light to darkness.

But while falling, the one who falls is a voyager detained in the tunnel of time, on the threshold between two worlds where angels and demons dwell. Just as semi-darkness crosses the Full Moon as it wanes; once it is fully obscured, we call it a New Moon, not a black moon. Just as Venus the evening star sinking below the horizon at sunset becomes the morning star when it ascends toward the heavens, announcing a new day.

If no light illuminates an object, then we see no image. Nor would we see images if, once illuminated, objects produced no shadows, no dark and light areas, no chiaroscuro. The most ancient writing, on tablets of clay or wax, could not be read without shadow because the “ink” was no more than the shadow cast by the edge of a line etched into an illuminated medium.

A form that is not illuminated will live in the shadows and will remain unknown. A form illuminated without shadows will live in illuminated ignorance.

Many painters and sculptors have represented this terrestrial/celestial dichotomy, rebellion in the heavens. This Fallen Angel in particular, a work by Spanish sculptor Ricardo Bellver (1877), captures the conflict between two forces that have come face to face, the gift of flight and the disgrace of the fall, in the moment of falling hic et nunc, a Latin saying that literally means “here and now.”

Cast in bronze, Fallen Angel today reposes in Madrid’s Retiro Park, a few meters from the Prado Museum and the Royal Observatory. The sculpture was presented to the world at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair, coinciding with the official presentation of the Statue of Liberty’s formidable head, destined for New York. May this unexpected virtual encounter between the work of two sculptors, who may never have met each other, serve as a tribute.