Christ of the Divine Mercy
Description of the work
The new greening of spring not only brings us closer to Passion Week with renewed enthusiasm, but also brings with it a growing interest in the sculptural works that have been defined throughout the year and are now being completed. Numerous hours of work, projects altered in the evolution of the piece itself, satisfactions and concerns dependent on artistic inspiration and full emotions before the happy result constitute the bases of a process that is usually common to all creators, aware that the ultimate success lies in the hands of outside critics. A critique, eager to pass judgement, protected by its evident right to give its opinion and whose arguments - of the most diverse nature - run through such heterogeneous channels as the formal, technical, aesthetic or spiritual. Beyond the detailed analysis of each of these aspects, it is generally agreed in the broadest forums that in order to ensure that a religious sculpture is well received, the existence of a powerful value is necessary: the transmission of emotions.
We are completely sure that the recognition always awaited by every sculptor will be received by the young Juan Alberto Pérez Rojas once the effigy of the Christ of the Divine Mercy has been executed, destined for the church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in the Cordovan town of Almodóvar del Río. As we are accustomed to, despite his still short artistic career, Juan Alberto resolves this new commission with the enormous brilliance typical of someone who is getting closer and closer to the stage of plastic maturity. In short, a work that is the result of the appropriate theoretical and practical training, the study of traditional models and the particular interpretation that all creators must imprint. The proportions of the Crucifixion under study (194 centimetres) are adapted to the architectural framework in which it will be located, insofar as it will preside over the high altar of the church, which means adjusting the lines of visualisation and perspective as much as possible. As a whole, this image combines different stylistic tendencies imbued with the classical, mannerist and baroque essence, with a view to creating a result that combines tension with serenity, will with despondency. There is no doubt that the use of such noble wood as cedar and the oil polychromy contribute in some way to such achievements.
Anyone who comes to contemplate the work will probably agree, and this is normal, in identifying certain graphics of the effigy in the inspiration drawn from the early Baroque masters of Seville, from Castillo Lastrucci himself and even from Pérez Rojas's formative reference, the master Juan Manuel Miñarro. Far from being a disadvantage for the sculpture, such influences should be seen as the best indication of the contemporary progress of religious sculpture, which looks forward without ever leaving aside what came before. The composition of body lines with clear Italian roots based on Mannerist models, suitably adapted by Genoese Baroque sculpture, is quite original. We refer to the marked arching and attempted foreshortening of the body from the feet to the head, with its starting point in the contraposto of the legs with strong elongation of the left and gentle repose of the right. The compositional rhythm is thus enhanced by the energy and ascensionality ascribed to the sinuous profile transmitted to the master lines of the purity cloth and the hair. However, everything that could a priori entail an exorbitant dynamism becomes in this piece a tempered brio with its starting point in the lax anatomy and the inclined head with its languid, serene and defeated face.
The face is precisely the most characteristic part of the artist's production, accustomed to depicting them in elongated, cool-looking canons, here determined at the same time by the disconcerted gesture accentuated by the recessed orbital rims, the distant gaze and the half-open mouth. There is also room for meticulous and precious details to increase the sensation of realism, such as the inclusion of glass eyes, the carving of the teeth and tongue, and the creation of a crown of thorns, also in cedar wood, with a complex configuration in which its threatening barbs stand out. An arboreal cross that simulates a log provides the ideal frame for a body with a contained sagging that is evident, above all, in the rigidity and muscular tension of the arms, which at no time impede the gesture of the blessing with the right hand. Tan tones define the polychromy of the Crucifixion with a well-defined double aspect, in view of the significant and almost total absence of traces of blood on the front and the purplish recrudescence of the back as a result of the traces left by the lashes. In short, and to conclude, a work imbued with an air of dramatic restraint in which the compositional success and the correct anatomical treatment increase its importance in order to bring the spectator closer to the emotional world.
Sergio Ramírez González, Dr. in Art History