The Great Work

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In 2007-2008 arose the idea of a pictorial project bound to Alchemy. Inspired by French writer Marguerite Yourcenar’s novel The Abyss, Chiuchiarelli started an intensive bibliographical research aiming to a pictorial research which, finally, turned into an existential and spiritual research.

The alchemical path is a difficult one which leads man to get rid of all bonds and anchorages. By progressively freeing itself, the Being perceives the vital principle and comes to the deepest roots of life. Alchemy also used symbols, whose main aim was to protect from the violence of religions.

Once understood the alchemic symbology, the artist’s choice fell on essential images which could have a great impact. The supporting idea had to be defined by a specific symbology. So, arose the division of the cycle according to three phases of the Opus.


In the paintings inspired by three Opus phases the traditional alchemic symbols are missing because Marco only uses the chromatic language, having initially linked and then purified the whole symbology, thus making way for colour only. Indeed, his research allowed him to find two ways of representation: Opus Minor, divided into three phases, and Opus Maior, divided into seven phases. The choice falls on Minor because the three colours (black, white, red) express the path in the best way. The Black starts from a small painting entitled ‘La Scelta’ (The Choice), where the artist made his self-portrait with a part of his face covered by a mask. Ideally follow ‘Nigredo’, ‘Albedo’ and ‘Rubedo’, ‘Le Nozze mistiche del Re e della Regina’ (The King’s and Queen’s Mystical Marriage), finally, the last (a work in progress) ‘Splendor Solis’. The last two are personalized views borrowed from the artist’s existential experience. The path chosen by Chiuchiarelli does not start, however, from ‘Nigredo’. There is a time that precedes this first phase and that the artist wanted to enclose in the small painting entitled ‘La Scelta’. In every man’s life there is a moment of consciousness where one realizes whether to stay in the shade or go to the light. If one chooses to go to the light, the alchemical journey necessarily starts from ‘Nigredo’, from darkness inside oneself. This is a cyclical route which does not come to an end, but is continuously renewed.

The two antithetical and complementary principles of Male and Female find their expression individually and equally balanced in ‘Nigredo’ and ‘Albedo’, and then recompose themselves in the concordia oppositorum of ‘Rubedo’, a fusion in a single Being aware of the coexistence of the two principles in itself. ‘Le Nozze mistiche del Re e della Regina’ represents the accomplishment of Unity and Being which proceeds until the end. Finally, ‘Splendor Solis’, that is, the achievement of oneself fullness.

In Nigredo bareness is absolute, while in ‘Rubedo’ pudendum is covered. Bareness aims to not to wear masks anymore, a necessary requirement to take the way towards the knowledge of Self. In ‘Rubedo’ pubic areas are covered with gold, and the reason is simple: our culture has always been sex phobic, has always mortified sexuality, which in ‘Rubedo’ is praised by gold instead, because it is the seat of the human being’s vital principle.

In ‘Le Nozze mistiche del Re e della Regina’ the crowns account for the crowning of the journey, the celebration of him/her who spent his/her life, his/her youth in accomplishing his/her own path, a path that is, in fieri, Marco Chiuchiarelli’s too, whose aim in the Great Work was to summarize the connection between art and life, the continuous transmigrating from darkness to light, a going up and going down, and then going up again, thus proving that the goal, for the artist, is far away from being achieved.