An artist was commissioned to paint a work of art to celebrate the coming Easter week, but the painting of a semi-naked Jesus Christ he produced has provoked a furious backlash.
More than 22,000 people have signed a petition protesting against the painting that depicts Jesus as “homoerotic” and “effeminate.”
Local artist Salustiano Garcia was commissioned to paint the piece to celebrate Easter week in the southwestern Spanish city of Seville.
The painting, commissioned by the Council of Brotherhoods and Guilds, shows the son of God partially clothed, standing in front of a red background.
Since its publication on January 27, conservatives in Spain have denounced the painting.
Conservative Spanish groups and figures have led the criticism.
“It’s absolutely shameful and an aberration,” the conservative Catholic group ISPE said.
ISPE describes Garcia’s piece as “effeminate” and “camp” and is demanding a public apology from the artist, according to AFP.
Javier Navarro, of the right-wing Vox party, said that division over the painting “is not about artistic tastes; it is about the poster fulfilling the purpose for which it is intended and it is none other than encouraging the devout participation of the faithful in Holy Week in Seville.”
No se trata de gustos artísticos, se trata de que el cartel cumpla con el fin para el que está destinado y no es otro que animar a la participación devota de los fieles a la Semana Santa de Sevilla.
Es evidente que este cartel buscaba la provocación y el Consejo lo ha permitido pic.twitter.com/DTsKJPBIc4
— Javier Navarro (@javicasina) January 28, 2024
A petition has now been signed by more than 22,600 people demanding its removal.
The petition organizers say that the artwork is “sacrilegious” and that it trivializes “religious motifs”.
Garcia rejected the connotations that some have perceived in the piece.
“To see sexuality in my image of Christ, you must be mad,” he told ABC, a Spanish national daily newspaper.
He added there is nothing in the work that “has not already been represented in artworks dating back hundreds of years.”
“If someone sees something dirty in my painting, it is their own impurity that they are projecting onto the image,” Garcia said.
Even the mayor of Seville is involved.
José Luis Sanz deemed the controversy “artificial,” saying that he liked the artwork.
The painting has also caused a stir online outside of Spain.
One X user, posting under the name Daniel vs Babylon, wrote:
“Judgement will come upon Seville for effeminate Jesus.”
Garcia’s work has been described as “Renaissance perfection with mathematical rigor,” according to his website.
He has exhibited his artworks around the world, including Europe, Asia, and the Americas.