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Renato Nicolodi at Abdij van Park

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Renato Nicolodi's sculpture, "Aedicula" is now on view at the Abdij van Park, the Premonstratensian abbey near Leuven. It’s one of Western Europe’s best-preserved abbey sites, where spirituality, meaningfulness, art, and heritage have been central since the 12th century.

With attention and consideration for the historical lines of the site, a former ducal park with large water features, Nicolodi created a place of, and for, silence. Sixteen individual concrete modules in the form of a niche invite the viewer to approach, as mental beacons or resting points in a rapidly changing society. He says his works are like monuments or relics that preserve memories and thoughts but can also be starting points for further rest, contemplation, introspection, or guidance.

The ground plan echoes the abbey's refectory, best known for beautiful stucco ceilings from the second half of the 17th century. The ground of the refectory is inlaid with bluestone tiles in a cross shape. According to the negative spaces of this pattern, the modules stand as an enigmatic wandering garden - an invitation to interaction.

Nicolodi's work often refers to the architectural heritage we share in our society. It is another reason for the emptiness of the modules of "Aedicula," which literally means niches or alcoves. "A niche protects and reveals," Nicolodi says: not statues as in earlier temples, but the personal sphere of the viewer.

"Aedicula" is the result of a participatory process with Leuven residents that began in September 2021 under the guidance of De Nieuwe Opdrachtgevers. A major ongoing restoration campaign of the abbey continues until 2025.

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