The Women of the Bible: a selection of critics’ reviews  
pencil sketces of Potiphar’s Wife, Susanna and Bathsheba
Salome’s ana Herod’s banquet
Preliminary sketches for Potiphar's wife, Susanna, Bathsheba and Salome
    From the wealth of reviews written about this cycle, which appeared periodically in the daily newspapers when there were exhibitions, and over the years, in art and cultural magazines, here are a few brief extracts taken from longer reviews by some of the more significant contributors.  
Giorgio Segato: Ernani Costantini’s Biblical cycle  
    The cycle on the women of the Bible accompanies […] above all Costantini’s work as a painter of large scale wall paintings, predominantly for churches. In this new challenge […] Ernani has cultivated and matured his narrative vein and his capacity for synthesis with broad pictorial gestures which are well defined, airy, clearly visible and interpretable from a distance, marked, underlined, filled with expertly emphasised atmospheric vibrations, syncopated and modulated as a sign of comprehension and emotional and moral participation.[…]
Costantini has been part of the artistic panorama of Venice and the Veneto from the postwar period until now, but if this reference is particularly evident in his other artistic genres, in his portraits and his sacred and religious art Ernani Costantini breaks away in order to assimilate a much vaster horizon, a quantity and quality of different references and first among all, that of reaffirming a direct, immediate figurative communication, informative and emotional with the widest audience, using the signs, the images, revealing a sensuality and allegories which still belong to us, recreating gestures and prospective leanings which unleash his artistic sensibility and generous narrative inventiveness to the greatest extent.
    Giorgio Segato, Il ciclo Biblico di Ernani Costantini [The Biblical cycle of Ernani Costantini], in Da Eva a Maria [From Eve to Mary], MMV, Padua 1987  
Sergia Jessi Ferro: A spiritual and aesthetic message            
drawing Study of Joseph running away
Study for the figure of Joseph fleeing Potiphar's wife
  Costantini removes from these twelve female figures that aura which is a combination of mythical and sacred with which history has cloaked them and returns them to us in their humanity which remains unchanged over time. Twelve characters, twelve different situations, a single denominator the “female dimension”[…]
The artist has once again achieved the miraculous feat of speaking to us through a universal language.
[…] Costantini has read deeply into the minds of these women and through an expert use of the language of colour and similarly through his composition of images he lays open to us the world of their secret thoughts.
[…] To wonder why in our times he felt the need to measure himself against such a theme using these forms would mean our rejection of the spiritual message which comes from them, and being able to appreciate the enchantment of these colours which are the light of life and seduction
Drawing Study of Potiphar’s Wife   Studio per moglie di Potifar
drawing study of drapery of Susanna
Study for Susanna: drapery
    Sergia Jessi Ferro, Un messaggio spirituale ed estetico [A spiritual and aesthetic message], in Da Eva a Maria [From Eve to Mary], MMV, Padua 1987  

Guido Perocco: Beyond representation

drawing study of loaf and drapery
Detail for Herod's banquet
  The pictorial work is of a rare consistence and the expertise in the composition of the twelve imposing paintings, with an effort equal to that of the great painters of old who worked on canvases of vast dimensions and the task of communicating through painting, to a community both attentive and spiritually prepared to respond, the analogical meaning between the image and the literary text […] The bold effort of Costantini beats any hesitance and returns to the origins of this discourse   drawing Study of drapery of Holofernes   Study of drapery for Holofernes in Judith
    Guido Perocco, Al di là della figurazione [Beyond representation], in Da Eva a Maria [From Eve to Mary], MMV, Padua 1987      
Paolo Rizzi: The women of Ernani Costantini, Biblical, yet so modern        
    […] The painter has read the sacred texts and interpreted them freely. No iconographic memories […] that of Ernani Costantini, this time more than ever, is the way of an auroral naturalism.
[…] The protagonists, as far as Mary of Nazareth, move outside time. They are women of yesterday and, at the same time, of today. Something which strikes us makes us think.
[…] The spiritual link however must be unravelled by us. It is the spectator who invests the image with a hint of religiousness.
Strangely Ernani Costantini, a man of culture and faith, also actively involved in social life, makes no apology. Neither does he impose any credo.
He “reads” the Bible logically and interprets it with the spirit of today. Perhaps it is for this reason that his “natural mystery” moves us.
  drawing Study of Delilah   Study for Delilah
    Paolo Rizzi, “Le donne di Ernani Costantini, Bibliche, eppure così moderne” [The women of Ernani Costantini, Biblical, yet so modern], Il Gazzettino, Venezia, 6th march 1987            
Marco Goldin: The women of the Bible, twelve canvases by Ernani Costantini …        
another drawing study of Potiphar’s WIfe
Study for Potiphar's wife
  […] Ernani Costantini has weaved his figurative reflection, with an articulation which alternates moments of high drama and other typically contemplative ones.
[…] Today, Costantini aims to present to us, with great boldness, a piece of work similar to those of old, while trying to embrace, with one great sweeping stroke, such a vast temporal arc.
Between Eve and Mary the entire history of mankind is contained, and the painter’s project is the challenge of retracing in the various scenes an element of unity and coherence.
It is for painting, which is often poorly interpreted, to speak, communicate, make contact, and reach under our skin. Costantini’s should be a lesson on figures, symbols, images, and colours: the rediscovery of an ancient element of language which is sometimes believed to be lost […]
Ernani Costantini’s depiction spreads out in a carefree and quiet form […] His figures are coherent, and above all, always dominated by a soft light, which makes the harmony of tones a fundamental characteristic. Though the figures are suspended in an atmosphere which is removed from the world, they still, again and again, cling to the earth, on which this grand scenario is built […]
drawing Study of Herodias   Study for Salome: Herodias
drawing study of drapery of Herod and a Conseulor   Study for Salome: Herod's robes
    Marco Goldin, “Le donne della Bibbia, dodici tele di Ernani Costantini …” [The women of the Bible, twelve canvases by Ernani Costantini …], La vita del Popolo, Treviso, 8th march 1987  
Enzo di Martino: Biblical “fresco” by Costantini  
sketch of Herod’ banquet
Study for Salome: Herod's banquet
drawing study of the flute player of the Salome’s scene   Study for Salome: the flute player
drawing Study of the dogs of the Salome’s scene
Study for Salome
  […] Through the use of a coarse and essential painting style, almost as if painting a mural, Costantini puts together a great biblical fresco with an essentially epic feel. However, on closer inspection, the author constructs a work which is also profoundly religious even though the various female characters are shown in “flesh and blood” and therefore in the fullness of their humanity. […]  
  Enzo di Martino, “Affresco biblico di Costantini” [Biblical “fresco” by Costantini], from Arte, Milan, march 1987  
  […] By occasionally enriching the settings and the scenes with other figures and numerous additional historical details which make it more alive and comprehensible, Costantini makes great use of his expert and efficient painting technique which is able, also from a strictly psychological standpoint, to bring the women of the Bible closer to our contemporary sensibility, thus rendering them up-to-date. […]  
    Enzo di Martino, from Il Gazzettino, 2002.  
  © Famiglia Costantini