Anonymous catalan artist
Late 12th century
Polychrome wood, 130.5 x 107 x 14.7 cm
Donated by the Banco de Bilbao in 1961
This figure of Christ is a clear exponent of Catalan Romanesque sculpture and reveals the solemn and conceptual nature of mediaeval art. An extremely frequent motif in the Catalan Pyrenees throughout the twelfth century, Jesus Christ was usually portrayed either as the Dead Christ Mourned or as Christ in Majesty (Maiestas Domini), i.e., Jesus alive and triumphant on the cross as we see here. This last type, derived from Byzantine tradition, is characterised by the rigidity and the frontal view of the figures, depicted with large, wide-open eyes and feet nailed separately.
This work, of an exceptional quality and in a good state of preservation, presents Christ without a crown, dressed in a long Syrian robe or colobium decorated with imperial eagles. The schematic treatment of the figure, its rigid and majestic attitude and its face, that reveals no signs of suffering, endeavour to convey its sovereignty and magnificence.
The cross, polychrome on both sides, is another symbol of royalty and therefore a throne rather than an instrument of torture. Above the head of Christ we read the inscription IHS XPS REX ON, an abbreviation of “Iesus Christus Rex Iudeorum” (Jesus Christ King of the Jews), which is flat and widens out at the ends. The upper area contains personified representations of the Sun and the Moon that refer to the eclipse that took place upon Jesus’ death; the Virgin Mary stands to the right and St John to the left. The lower area presents Adam emerging from the sepulchre as a symbol of man’s redemption by Jesus. These figures represent a step forward towards naturalism and announce a new style: Gothic. [A.S.L.]
Independently of its permanent collection, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum regularly organises temporary exhibition programmes.
Please consult the exhibition calendar for more information about the museum's latest proposals.
Usually classed as a realist painter, Antonio López (born in Tomelloso in 1936) is one of the most idiosyncratic artists at work in Spain after the Civil War. From the 1950s, he has produced drawings, engravings, paintings and sculptures, fashioning an oeuvre of a remarkable technical virtuosity that somehow seems outside time, despite focusing on the realistic representation of living beings and objects. López’s iconographic repertoire always springs from the reality of the visual world and oscillates between scenes of intimacy and the vast outdoors: portraits, still life works, interiors and domestic objects jostle with broad panoramic views.
In 1992 film director Víctor Erice shot the extraordinary El sol del membrillo (The Quince Sun), which concentrates on Antonio López’s creative process, on the intensity with which the artist contemplates objects. This act of rapt attention gives the film a halo of silence and a sensation of time suspended, which moves the viewer to a similar state of meditative absorption. the painter’s highly distinctive use of light contributes enormously to the dreamlike, metaphysical atmosphere, to the suggestion of the visible as a door, slightly ajar, to the invisible.
Despite his realist style, Antonio López has shaped an oeuvre independent from the other, more recent European realist or naturalist trends and from American hyperrealism. What he seeks in the reality that surrounds him are the quotidian aspects that awaken his interest; he works slowly and painstakingly towards his goal of capturing the essence of the sitter or of the objects or the land- and cityscapes portrayed. Curated by historian Guillermo Solana, art director at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, and the artist' s daughter María López, the exhibition will include a very complete overview of the oeuvre of Spanish artist Antonio López.
The selection of around 130 works, oil paintings, drawings and sculptures, represent his most recurrent themes: interiors, where the fantastic and emotive irrupt into daily life, the human figure, landscapes and the famous cityscapes of Madrid and Tomelloso, and his fruit compositions.Although works dated between 1949 and 2010 will be on show, the project concentrates largely on his output from the last two decades, which will include signature works like his earliest, slightly surreal family portraits, the legendary view of Madrid’s Gran Vía and the drawings of his studio. But attention will also be paid to more recent works, some of which are still unfinished and, logically, as yet unseen.
The exhibition as a whole will highlight the slow, meditative process by which Antonio López, one of today’s leading and most admired Spanish artists, arrives at his art.
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THE GUEST WORK
07|10|13 • 09|15|13
THE GUEST WORK
04|10|13 • 07|07|13