11/29/2018, 15.17
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"Mediterraneo": An exhibition of paintings at AsiaNews for the Trappist monastery of Syria (Photo)

by Bernardo Cervellera

The paintings are the work of artist Mauro Valsangiacomo. The exhibition will be open from 15.30 to 18.30 every weekday from December 12 to 23. The Mediterranean as a place of encounter and clash of cultures and peoples; synthesis of civilizations gradually enriched through the contribution of those who have settled down through the millennia. Even today, there are migrants who come from the South and the Middle East in search of the well-being and tranquility enjoyed by Europe.

Rome (AsiaNews) - " Mediterraneo ", this evocative word is the title of a collection of paintings created by the artist and friend Mauro Valsangiacomo donated to AsiaNews. They are on display in the AsiaNews auditorium from 12 to 23 December. In his paintings of red and blue, of sunny yellow and earthy aridity, the whole epic of this sea is perceived, a place of encounter and clash of cultures and peoples; a synthesis of civilizations gradually enriched with the contribution of all those who have settled down through the millennia.

 Even today the Mediterranean is a place of traffic, meetings and clashes with migrants coming from the South and the Middle East in search of the well-being and tranquility enjoyed by Europe.

Mediterranean culture has always been enriched by the contribution of other cultures. Yet today a xenophobic ideology, of contempt and fear of the foreigner, which fosters closure in a myth of self-defense, and heaping all of the ills that afflict society on immigrants, is increasingly widespread.

This position is in juxtaposition to another one, that overly benevolent that promotes a mass welcome, without concerning itself with programs for integration and which sees migrants exploited as cheap labor in barren West’s demographic winter.

These ideologies have common shortcomings: neither considers migrants as carriers of a culture, and hide their culture and identity: the first in the name of a closed defense to the bitter end; the second because diluted, forgotten, reduced to the power of number and money. Instead, we at AsiaNews view the proposal of Pope Francis to "welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees" (Message of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2018) as good, just and true. Above all, integration is a crucial issue. To integrate means to invite the other with his culture to live in our culture, with rules, styles, respect, appreciating and assimilating the good that is in the other. This magnanimity is possible if you look at the other as a brother and not as an obstacle. But this gaze arises from a dimension that is almost totally forgotten: the religious and the Christian.

If Europe and the Mediterranean are no longer as welcoming as in the past, this is due to the reduction of the European being to business only, to the economy, without looking at culture, the Judeo-Christian roots, which instead of looking at the other in wonder, looks at him only as a burden.

And on the other hand, if one identity is not able to encounter the other and live together, it means that identity is false, it is not a welcoming home, but a cardboard hut, full of fear, with ideals that do not coincide with the heart and intelligence.

What does all this have to do with the beautiful paintings of Valsangiacomo? It struck me that the point of view of these paintings is from on high, as if - allow me - it were a divine, religious, global point of view, capable of embracing everything, every form, every color. From above we see the harmony between the colors and the masses, the complementarity of forms and lights, the unique theater and horizon in which we and others live.


What does this show have to do with AsiaNews? If the Mediterranean is the meeting place between North and South, East and West, AsiaNews and PIME, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, are perfectly in line with this destiny. Thanks to the missionaries we launch ourselves in friendship with peoples and cultures from Asia and Africa, offering them faith in and beyond European culture. And AsiaNews, a sort of digital Mediterranean, connects Christians and Buddhists from China, Muslims from the Middle East and Africa, Indian agnostics and Hindus with the witness of the Christian faith.

Mauro Valsangiacomo wants to donate the proceeds of his sales to AsiaNews. And we thank him for this. But we want to share this gift with the Trappist nuns living in Syria, in the monastery of Azeir, who have to enlarge and repair the monastery after the war. But they themselves want to help the hospital that is close to their monastery, where the people, because of the protracted war, have no access to treatment. And this charity that transcends frontiers is the true gift of a Merry Christmas.

Mostra "Mediterraneo"
Mostra "Mediterraneo"
Mostra "Mediterraneo"
Mostra "Mediterraneo"
Mostra "Mediterraneo"
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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”