In northern Spain, a local priest allowed an amateur artist to restore a series of wooden statues, including one featuring Jesus, Mary, and St Anne. The technicolour outcome, however, had a local official calling it an act of “vengeance rather than a restoration.”
— frieze (@frieze_magazine) September 10, 2018
The 15th century sculptures—part of a set at a chapel in El Ranadoiro—were left bare before Maria Luisa Menendez, one of the residents of the tiny town, reportedly painted them, the BBC reports. They now feature fuchsia lips and brightly coloured clothing, with Baby Jesus adorned in an almost blinding neon green garment.
“I’m not a professional, but I always liked to do it, and the figures really needed to be painted,” Menendez reportedly told newspaper El Comercio. “So I painted them as I could, with the colours that looked good to me, and the neighbours liked it.”
While the neighbours allegedly liked the technicolour figurines, the paint job has been the subject of heated derision, with Spain’s art conservation association ACRE reportedly characterising it as the “continued pillaging in our country.”
Así se ha restaurado un altar de madera del siglo XV en #Asturias.
Artesanía popular medieval convertida en soberbia pieza #kitsch.
Ante esto, mi madre con los ojos desorbitados: "¡Dios, ten piedad de nosotros!"#SOSPatrimonio pic.twitter.com/ByQvU3BBjY
— Marcel Velázquez (@Marcelvelazq) September 9, 2018
The restoration also received a lot of passionate criticism online. A professor denounced it on Twitter with the hashtag #kitsch, and said that his mother responded to it with, what Google translates as, “God, have mercy on us!” Another user on Twitter called for legal action, tagging the the Government of the Principality of Asturias, the region where the statue resides.
Of course, controversial attempts at reviving religiously and culturally beloved relics of the past have gone viral before. In June, when an art teacher restored a 16th-century wooden sculpture of St George in Estella, a town in northern Spain, it was ridiculed—and compared to children’s cartoon character Tintin. And perhaps most meme-worthy was the botched Ecce Homo painting restoration, also in northern Spain, which has also come to be known as “Potato Jesus.” [BBC]