By Michael Soh
John XXIII College has commissioned a world-renowned artist to paint a fresco of the school’s patron saint in celebration of his upcoming canonisation.
Born in New York, Dr Alan Pascuzzi is based in Florence where he is an artist and professor in fine arts and art history.
His works are completed in the same way as they were created during the Renaissance period.
“As far as classically, they were all classically inspired as far as figurative sort of works,” Dr Pascuzzi told The Record.
“As far as the religious side to that, that inspired me to being an observant Catholic, and that fusion of mastery, knowledge of the past but also personal devotion was the perfect combination to create true works of art.”
He was also inspired by the soon to be canonised Pontiff’s humanity to manufacture the 1.5m by 2.8m artwork.
“It’s his humanity, it’s his tenacity, his dedication and humility that has inspired me to learn more about him and then try to put that into the work and the works I have done of him,” Dr Pascuzzi said.
The fresco was commissioned by Drs Gerhard Janssen and Gabriele Maluto, and features symbols and aspects of the school, including its chapel and gardens.
The centrepiece of it is Pope John XXIII and images of saints such as Aloysius Gonzaga, and Edmund Campion, as well as images of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“The whole fresco is really a summarisation of the area in conjunction with the celebration of John XXIII becoming a saint,” Dr Pascuzzi said.
He brought all his organic materials from Italy as he did not know how they would react in Australia.
“The line pace is made from marble called calcium carbonate, the sand is all silicate sand from the Pearl River,” he explained.
“All my pigments are natural based pigments, they are earth tones made from coloured earths.
“All the materials have to be organic because this chemical action has to react and has to collaborate with the chemical reaction in order to produce the durable fresco.”
Religious Education teacher at the school Annette Pedersen said the artwork carries a message for all those who view it.
“They will understand the role of frescos in Church history, but also how important telling the story is within religious practice,” she said.
“The message of Christ – the word of God, is brought to us through these images as well as the Gospels.
“Having frescos like this will remind us of the namesake of our College, John XXIII, and the things that he stands for and the things that we stand for, in terms of our Catholic faith.”
Community relations head Ric Del Pizzo said the fresco’s existence in the chapel will stand out for the present and future of the college.
“The fresco is just so unique that it will be something that present and future generations of families and students will enjoy for a long time,” he said.
John XXIII College extended the invitation to other schools to view the artwork, including Iona Presentation College, whose Year 11 art students came for an excursion.
“This is a style of work that none of the girls are familiar with yet, so I think it’s an interesting contrast to the work they are currently doing in class,” Iona art teacher Lisa Fay said.
John XXIII College will celebrate its namesake’s canonisation with an Italian Carnevale on April 27.
It will start with Mass at 4.30pm in the school gymnasium, followed by a picnic on the oval, and conclude with a fireworks display at 7.30pm. It will also feature a live telecast of the canonisation.