So this elderly lady decided to take it upon herself to “retouch” the painting “Ecce Homo” by Elias Garcia in the Santuario de Misericordia located in Borja Spain. The photo on the right is the result. Most of the media is reporting this as “octogenarian destroys masterpiece!” They note how she took it upon herself to retouch the painting without permission and how she apparently had no skill.
I for one prefer the new version. There are so many frescos of a wistful Christ gazing puppy-dog eyed up into the light already that you can’t throw a rock in a museum these days without hitting one. Plus they get upset when you throw rocks in museums for some reason. If Christ existed and if he was actually been crucified, he would probably have looked more like this:
Which, let’s face it, makes Christianity somewhat less appealing and hard to relate to. The poor ol’ gal who did the restoration is apparently suffering from anxiety attacks from the outcry over her attempts to help.
Have you ever even heard of Elias Garcia Martinez? I tried to Google him and all that came up was this same series of photos of the restoration. Meaning it is quite likely this guy is a nobody, this is a nothing painting, and it is only here because of media hype. In fact, it was the old woman who created a masterpiece! ”Ecce Homo” by the way is simply the noun for a painting of Christ wearing the crown of thorns, it literally translated to “behold the man”, so it’s not like this is is the only painting depicting this.
The new fresco to me depicts religion in general. The face, like a mask, covers the true visage beneath. Only the black, soulless eyes, like a shark, staring intently into the distance come through reminicent of “No-Face” in Myazaki’s film Spirited away; the smiling mask presenting gold and treasure while later it proceeds to devour everything.
In the restored painting the soul of the Christ is being sucked from the emotionless mouth in a blur. The head tilted as though he no longer has the strength to resist or hold his head up. The hair, once flowing in auburn cascades around the neck and shoulders has become as mass of umbers and siennas, heavy and weighted.
The crown of thorns, the focus of the original painting, so poignant with it’s green tint and drops of crimson highlights has all but vanished in the restored painting, blending into the figure as if to say, “once a part of you, you never get it off”. Not unlike being raised a Catholic.
All in all I think it is a fantastic piece of post-modern art. Art shouldn’t be meant to be forever, nor should it be stagnant. Maybe one day we can say the same about religion.