Ádám Kovács: The black hand
The black gloved hand was added by the sculptor Iván Paulikovics many years later to his earlier work, the tough, wise, foolish figure.
Maybe Diogenes is the plaster cast, – his head isn’t even visible -, it’s just something torso-like, his toga is crumpled, his ass is sticking out of it. He stood there with his protruding ass, set aside in the dark dusty warehouse because his creator felt he was not ready yet. Or he was just standing on the sunny white limestone cliff above the sea, bees flying over the flowers of the carob trees and cacti, and among the many thorns cicadas played music, grasshoppers bounced, watching while the seagulls were squawking, he looked down at the sparkling waves, staring in amazement and coveted at the endless sea, a distant foggy island. And this half- finished sage had nothing and no one, no ordinary problems, but he had time to think about everything, to meditate, to philosophize, to marvel at the most important things in the world, to unravel secrets, and to bask in the sun and to do nothing.
He was always happy when the sun was shining, and it was shining quite often in Greece. He ate what was thrown away, or was brought to him, or the fruit he found — he also begged sometimes, it must be admitted — he drank spring water, but when he received wine, he loved to be even happier, he had no other dress just this old toga. He was a model of serenity, but now, from under his toga, his hand in his black glove, which was later fitted, protrudes unsettlingly and ominously, as Ivan put it to him and finished the work that had been left half- finished for years.
No one really knows the prehistory of the hand, what he did before it was put on the statue post factum. Maybe he was wandering in dark alleys as the suffocating choked gloved hand of a murderer, or it squeezed the dagger that Brutus had stabbed Caesar once, or it might have been the hand of a mysterious thief at another age who stole a statue or picture from the gallery which hadn’t turned up ever since.
Something more was needed, the sculptor felt, and then everything has an overcast side, sadness, loneliness, lives in the corner of the stoic smile radiating from the headless torso’s movement.
It is also possible that the hand previously existed only hidden deep in the sculptor’s imagination and then a nightmare came to life, the Covid 2019 epidemic broke out, social distancing, curfews, gallery and restaurant closures, masks and gloves, so Ivan put it on the statue.
When the conqueror Alexander the Great once stood in front of Diogenes to ask about the secret of eternal life, all he told him was to step aside, not to cover the sunlight from me. For the king who wanted to be the god of sun not as powerful and shining in the eyes of the wise as the sun itself.
Maybe the black hand is precisely the admonition with which the philosopher points to Alexander the Great, that in vain all, because soon after, after a short glow, you suddenly smoke out in the dark, the next day the sun rises above your grave in the same way. He could point to us too, let’s go further, let’s not shine so much, let’s not cover the sun, we don’t know.
But it may be that after the sunset starry with the star of dawn, the darkness will be drawn down into the sky by this black hand among the white rocks that turn pink, over the whispering sea, and Diogenes will be amazed again at the infinity as the swan and eagle constellation of the Milky Way slides down on the faintly radiant waterfall.