La Vecchia Quercia (‘The Old Oak’)

La Vecchia Quercia (‘The Old Oak’)

‘La Vecchia Quercia’, or ‘The Old Oak’, is a nineteenth-century fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

The story is about an old oak tree that has a last dream before it dies. The oak tree lives for a total of 365 years. During its long life, mosquitoes fly around the oak tree every day. The oak tree feels sorry for them because they only live for one day. However, the mosquitoes feel extremely happy that one day and when a mosquito blissfully sits on the oak tree’s foliage, the oak tree keeps havingĀ the same conversation with them. It tells the mosquito in question that it is such a shame that it only lives for one day. “Too bad,” the mosquito always answers: “What do you mean by that? Everything is so wonderfully radiant, warm and beautiful and I am so happy!” “But only one day and then it is all over!”, answers the oak tree. To which the mosquito says: “Over! What is over? Are you over too?” “No, I may live for thousands of your days and my day lasts for entire seasons. That is something of such a long duration that you cannot calculate it at all!”, says the oak tree. The mosquito answers: “No, because I don’t understand you! You have thousands of my days, but I have thousands of moments to be happy and joyful. Does all this glory end when you die?” “No,” says the oak, “it certainly lasts longer, infinitely longer than I can imagine!” “But then we have just as much, our calculations only differ,” is the telling conclusion of the mosquito.

The mosquito is right in the fairy tale. In the oak’s last dream, he relives his life. He feels himself growing higher and higher, all the way to the sun. When all the other trees, plants and bushes around the oak start growing with him, he feels ultimately happy. This is the moment when the oak is felled by a storm, his roots actually come loose from the ground and he dies. The 365 years that the oak lived, turned out to be comparable to that one day that the mosquito lived. It is about the experience, the mosquito never realized that he only lived one day. In his short life, the mosquito had the same experiences, as the oak had in his vast life.

Willem Boronski was inspired by this beautiful story and its meaning. There is a similarity, because Boronski’s work is also about the experience. The experience of theĀ viewer is much more important to him than a generally accepted ‘truth’ or blindly assuming something. Boronski likes to leave it to the viewer to give their own interpretation of his work. He made a series of works of art in which the old oak, ‘La Vecchia Quercia’, plays the leading role. Warm, expressive works were created, in which the sunlight plays on the drawn bark of the oak. However, sober works, depicted in earth colours, in which nothing distracts from the tree with its ancient trunk, are also part of this series. These are works of art that tell a story, full of expression and feeling. The experience of the viewer when seeing this art is comparable to the experience of the mosquito and the oak: we all have the same amount, only the calculations can differ.

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