Despite his atheism, his work is full of images that come from the Church before the Second Vatican Council swept away so much. His Iconostasis of veiled statues and canvases must be a remembrance of the days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, when all images used to be veiled in mourning because God had been "put to death". He is a melancholy artist. The house in which he lived as a child has burnt down; the Italian economic miracle has carelessly allowed crass ugliness to be imposed on what was one of the most beautiful countries in the world; everywhere he feels we are losing contact with our history and the spirituality passed down by generations. He has written: "Culture has never been so much discussed as now, but it is a culture that does not coincide with life. We perhaps need to reflect and notice that the world is hungry and doesn't care about this so-called culture."[snip]
for while he views all theological matters with great suspicion, he thinks the Church is the last place where the word "spiritual" still has meaning and its value is defended. So he made a two metre-high smoke picture of a man hanging from a cross, and last autumn Pope Benedict XVI delivered his first address to the bishops of Italy with a huge enlargement of the image behind him. Afterwards the pope said to Parmiggiani, "I'm very happy to see this work; the Church has always had a close relationship with modern, but not contemporary art." He continued: "You must tell me one day how you paint with smoke," but Parmiggiani just smiled. That is a secret he keeps even from the pope.A retrospective exhibition, Apocalypsis cum figuris, runs in Pistoia, Tuscany, through March 2008.