A Christ that is too “effeminate” and “sexualized”? In Spain, the official poster used for the Holy Week festivities in Seville (Andalusia) arouses the anger of ultraconservative circles. The far right is calling for its withdrawal, deeming it “offensive” to Catholics. Presented on Saturday, this poster created by the Sevillian artist Salustiano García shows the resurrected Christ, slightly covered at the waist by a white shroud.
It represents “the luminous part of Holy Week”, in the “style specific to this prestigious painter”, underlined in a press release the organization bringing together the Sevillian brotherhoods which will participate in the secular processions of Holy Week, from March 24 to 30 . Intended to be distributed throughout the city, this poster sparked controversy on social networks, where many Internet users as well as an ultraconservative Catholic association denounced its character, according to them, “sexualized”.
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This poster is “a real shame and an aberration”, said, on X, the Institute of Social Policy (Ipse), an organization for the defense of “Christian symbols”, particularly committed against abortion. Judging this Christ to be “effeminate” and “mannered”, she called for its removal and demanded a public apology from the artist, believing that this “offensive” representation did not correspond to the spirit of Holy Week. These criticisms were relayed by the head of the far-right Vox party in Seville, Javier Navarro, who judged “this provocative poster” on X. It does not meet “the objective for which it was designed”, namely “to encourage the devout participation of the faithful”, he added.
Reactions denounced by its author, who said in an interview with the conservative daily ABC "surprised" by these attacks and assured to have painted a "sympathetic" and "elegant" work, in an approach of "deep respect" for the believers. “To see sexuality in my Christ, you have to be sick,” said the 52-year-old artist, recalling that Christ was regularly represented naked in classical art. “The people who have said bad things about my work (...) need a little artistic culture,” he mocked.
Salustiano García, whose works are exhibited in galleries around the world, said he took his son as a model to create this poster. “We both laughed when we discovered this controversy and we are very surprised by the politicization of the painting” which inspired the poster, he added. The Socialists, in power in Spain, defended the poster, denouncing the “homophobic and hateful” nature of the attacks, in the words of their leader in Andalusia, Juan Espadas, who defended the alliance of “tradition and modernity” characteristic of this region.
Spain, which decriminalized homosexuality in 1978, three years after the death of dictator Franco, has since become one of the most open countries in the world towards the LGBT community, authorizing from 2005 homosexual marriage and adoption for same-sex couples. Holy Week processions, which commemorate the Passion, death and resurrection of Christ, occupy an important place in Spain, a country where Catholic traditions remain very present - and particularly in Seville, considered the "capital" of these parades religious.