This intervention in the Basements of the Diocletian’s palace refers to the golden age of the city and recalls the past. In it, I speak from the Basement, from the inside of the city that disappears. No echo, the sound dissipates and vanishes: all is being consumed by vacuum. The golden age had declined along with the time of the one who had built it. I stretch the gold over the walls that crumble away because of time. The invocation of the past dimly illuminates the space. I bring the sun down into the Basement and oppose the darkness. The red sketches of angels adhere to the gold, multiply, and fly in circular motion, rotating the stars. The blue of the atmospheric sky is replaced with the gold of the icons. In the ambience of the Other Sky I collect the past time. I rearrange it onto the canvas, draw it into the images, and let it flow within the scent of incense in the moist air... ...Thus the Basement becomes an image of the inward and the other sky a reflection of the external.

Re-entering the Basements, Gloria Oreb concludes her cycle started three years ago. The Other Sky, together with Aurum and Illuminations, constitutes a trilogy and everything that has hitherto been indicated as a draft now is fully elaborated and shaped into one whole. The ambient of her work, placed in the western wing of the Basement, correlates to the venue’s ambient, which resembles basilica’s ground plan and gives an impression of a shrine. Invoking secrecy and evoking hermeticism, The Other Sky isolates the circular ‘apse’ from the rest of the space similarly to the altar polyptych, inspired by the legacy of the iconostasis. The lower black rectangle represents the earth, and the golden one stands for the sky. Either side of them is framed by four-part polyptychs with circular geometric structures of the red seraphim’s on a gold background that, while “hovering” in the air, create the impression of dematerialization. Gloria Oreb in her work re-evaluates the aesthetics of claritas, which has been preoccupying a number of philosophers and artists since antiquity through nowadays. The beauteous relating to divine, spiritual, and sublime has often been portrayed through the history of artistic creation as the light, and the most appropriate materialization of the light would be by using a precious metal – gold. Gold, the shiniest and the most valuable metal, represents the glow, the light, but not the ordinary light but metaphysical light that is sublime and transcendental. The light source equals the divine source, and gold is the sky in a spiritual sense. As seen on the Byzantine mosaics, even back in early Christianity the sky was depicted using gold background, and later on that reappears in the icon painting. Proceeding from the gold and then moving off while descending through the spheres of the mundane and mental, Gloria finally returns to it, assigning connotations to it packed with layered iconic and semiotic messages. Some of the great minds like Plotinus, Pseudo-Dionysius, or Ficino assumed that beauty could not be found in the mere compositions of parts, or the proportions of the characters, since the only beauty we can possibly behold emanates from the radiant glow of the light itself. According to them, the light is a fundamental metaphysical reality for the God is the cause of radiance and harmony of all things. The light itself gilds, refines, spiritualizes and it is the principle of all beauty. Just think of numerous ancient civilizations, cultures, and religions that worshiped the Sun as a deity and a light source, and considered reaching the Light as the final fulfilment and goal of the spiritual path...

Gloria creates ‘the other sky’ illuminating the black rectangle of earth by the touch of gold - the divine light – through the act of slow, almost meditative creation. That is evident through the gold background made by using a traditional technique of gold leaf application over the black painted basis, and requires great patience and meticulousness. This laborious and long-lasting process is set against the fast and simple print of an angel made over the stencil that comes from the graffiti art legacy. Why juxtaposing the old and the new way? Graffiti have emerged as a rebellion, a gesture of dissent, and as nowadays-acknowledged engaged art have come a long way since treated as an illegal act of expression. Gloria’s angels actually become a sign and stand for the mediators between body and spirit, earth and heaven, but also represent a kind of critical review of the author on today’s way of life that leaves less and less space to the individual for spiritual quest and self-realization.
Etymologically, the name Seraphim derives from the Latin seraphinus, i.e., the Hebrew seraph, meaning “fiery, burning, and blazing”. According to the famous hierarchy of angels by aforementioned Pseudo-Dionysius, the great angelologist of Christianity, Seraphims are the highest beings, the highest order of the first-sphere angels, the guardians of the God’s throne, and no one, not even the holy beings can look at them for their immense brightness. Gloria repeats the geometric structures used in the previous two series of the trilogy, and here again reappear the numbers and the layered symbolism contained within their different combinations (e.g., number eight denotes the cosmic balance and infinity, number four can be related to the four elements, the four cardinal points, the four evangelists).
Why did Gloria name her last trilogy-cycle The Other Sky? She concludes with it the “setting” of the Sun into the Basements, commenced with the Aurum, descending it into the depths of enclosed space, into the darkness where it goes through the cosmic movements of Illuminations, and becomes the reflection of the Sun, i.e., itself, thus creating another sphere, another sun, and, finally, The Other Sky.

Barbara Gaj

“The light is a universal nature that can be found in all existing bodies, both heavenly and earthly.” (St. Bonaventure, 13th century)

Diocletian's Palace cellars, Split 2010.