Who among us has not stood in line (or at least hoped to stand in line) at the Louvre to get a glimpse of the enigmatic Mona Lisa? It’s on every art lover / traveller’s to-do list.
Stop and have a think about the man who painted this masterpiece nearly 500 years ago – Leonardo da Vinci. What was he like? Even the word ‘genius’ does no justice to his supreme talent (both artistic and scientific) and unlimited creativity.
Did you know that:
1) As a child born out of wedlock in the mid-1400s, Leonardo only received basic education in Latin, geometry and mathematics. Yet, he made up for his lack of formal education by devoting endless hours to observation and experimentation. With an insatiable curiosity about nature and scientific phenomenon and a voracious appetite for knowledge, his body of work is the most diverse and extensive, ever known to man.
How did he manage to get so much done? Did he ever sleep or eat? Did he somehow, magically, have more than 24hrs in a day?
2) Leonardo was vegetarian at a time where eating meat was a sign of affluence. He cared deeply for all living creatures and was known to purchase caged birds and set them free. He felt a strong sense of connection with all living creatures.
3) He was left-handed and was as comfortable writing backwards (also known as mirror writing) as he was writing forward, like we normal mortals do.
Leonardo was just wired differently. A man centuries ahead of his time, with a legacy of artworks and scientific drawings that continue to inspire us even today.
I’ve been fascinated with Leonardo since I was little, especially the overlap he saw between art and science – a boundary rarely crossed, if ever. So when the ArtScience Museum here in Singapore announced the ‘Da Vinci: Shaping the Future’ exhibition, I was there opening week (mid-November 2014). This is the first time that Leonardo’s original works are being exhibited in South East Asia.
You can even buy a season pass (like yours truly), so you can visit as often as you like. Believe me, you’d want to keep going back.
The exhibition presents 26 original pages (13 pages on display for the first 3 months, to be switched in mid-February 2015) from Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus. This is where having the season pass helps.
The Codex Atlanticus is a 12 volume bound set, of over 1000 pages of Leonardo’s drawings and writings, covering subjects as diverse as music and botany to flight and weaponry; dating from 1478 to 1519.
These fragile pages come all the way from the Biblioteca Ambriosana, an ancient library-museum in Milan, Italy, which houses the entire Codex Atlanticus.
So if you live in Singapore or are visiting before May 2015, make sure you stop by the ArtScience Museum. There are no words to articulate Leonardo’s sheer brilliance. You will be transfixed, I promise!