Mats Bergquist, Daruma, 2015

The title Daruma, chosen for the work by Swedish artist Mats Bergquist, refers to the traditional Japanese votive dolls depicting the Indian Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, initiator of the Zen school. These objects of devotion, roughly ovoid in shape and stylized features, are a symbolic expression of the fulfillment of a wish after a period of waiting.


In Bergquist's work, this waiting is transfigured into pure contemplation. The egg - an archetypal, ancestral, cosmogonic image - becomes a precious casket or fertile womb, to guard, in power, a new life, which is also a promise of rebirth and resurrection. Daruma's ceramic surface appears dark, as if veiled by the dust of the world that seems to have settled on it after a very long time, yet leaving the purity and essentiality of the form completely unaltered. The artist thus generates an image of intrinsic visual power, in which it is possible to read the sedimentation of innumerable meanings of universal breath.


Inserted in the Habsburg sacellum of the crypt of the San Fedele Museum, the work is placed in dialogue with the imposing Untitled. Unveiling (2012) by the Greek artist Jannis Kounellis. If the heavy cross concealed from view in the sack is an obvious reference to the Apocalypse, Bergquist's "egg" offers to this eschatological vision, dramatic and disturbing, the salvific perspective of a return to life; we can therefore understand how the end of all things is not definitive and without hope, but constitutes a necessary passage for the achievement of the fullness of existence.