Segantini - Nature
Type of Spiritual Experience
In 1897 Segantini was commissioned by a group of local hotels to build a huge panorama of the Engadin valley to be shown in a specially built round hall at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris.
For this project he worked almost exclusively outdoors on large canvases covered by substantial wooden shelters. Before it was completed, however, the project had to be scaled down for financial reasons. Segantini redesigned the concept into a large triptych known as Life, Nature and Death (Segantini Museum, St. Moritz), which is now his most famous work.
He continued to work on it until his death.
There are references in a number of scholarly works to ideas of the 'bad mother' that Segantini used. Segantini was inspired by Nirvana, a poem written by the 12th century monk Luigi Illica in imitation of the Indian text Panghiavahli. Illica's poem contained the phrase 'la Mala Madre', but the 'Bad Mother' in Indian cosmology refers to Mother and Father symbolism and the two roles of the Mother as Creator and Destroyer - the one responsible for Life and Death. Given his wife's tuberculosis and his mother and father's early deaths, Segantini would have been all too aware of the dual nature of the Mother.
Thus we have the motivation for the inclusion of Life and Death in the tryptych, but the inclusion of Nature was because this is where Segantini found the spiritual. In everything that was related to Nature Segantini was able to see spirit at work - for him it was imbued with spirit. The physical and the spiritual are inseparable.