Holy Week poster of overly sexualized Christ shocks conservatives in Spain
Holy Week poster of overly sexualized Christ: An image of Christ deemed that some of deemed to be “overly sexualized”. In Spain, the chosen official poster for the 2024 Holy Week celebrations in the southern city of Seville has drawn sharp criticism from conservative circles, who say it’s “offensive” and are demanding that it be removed.
The poster, which was presented to the public on January 27, is the work of Sevillian painter Salustiano (Garcia). It depicts a young thin Christ after the resurrection. He’s completely nude except for a burial cloth over his genitals. Salustiano said the work symbolizes “the radiant side of Holy Week”, according to a statement from Seville’s Council of Brotherhoods and Guilds, which organizes the colorful Holy Week events each year.
But the poster has sparked controversy on social media, with some people finding the Christ too “sexualized” and “effeminate”.
“This poster is an abomination,” said the Institute for Social Policy (Ipse), an organization that defends “Christian symbols” and advocates against abortion. “We consider this poster a serious offense that completely decontextualizes the true meaning of Holy Week,” the institute said on X (formerly Twitter), while also demanding its removal.
The leader of the far-right Vox party in Seville, Javier Navarro, who described the poster as “provocative” on X. He added that it does not fulfill its intended purpose, which is to “encourage the devout participation of the faithful”.
A petition has even been launched on the Change.org website. Signed by more than 13,000 people as of January 31, it calls for the defense of the “tradition” and “religious fervor” of Seville against this artwork.
Salustiano expressed surprise at these attacks, asserting in an interview with the daily ABC that he had painted a “beautiful” and “elegant” work.
“There is nothing in my painting that has not already been represented in art for centuries,” he said. “I believe that people who spoke ill of my work or saw sexuality in it need a bit of art education,” he quipped, citing El Greco’s “Resurrected Christ” from 1598, which portrays a naked Christ. “If it could be done in the 16th Century, it perplexes me that we can’t depict a bare-chested Christ-like mine in the 21st Century,” Salustiano added.
Beyond the political dimension, some religious art experts said they could understand why this poster may have displeased some.
El cartel de la Semana Santa de Sevilla 2024 ha generado revuelo y se ha hecho viral.
Su autor, Salustiano García, asegura en una entrevista a EFE que "no es revolucionario ni sucio".
— EFE Noticias (@EFEnoticias) January 28, 2024
“The image stands out due to its proximity and lack of restraint,” said François Boespflug, a Christian art historian. He told La Croix that Salustiano’s depiction “lacks respect and mystery.”
The beauty of Christ reflects interior beauty
“It’s the ideal of the modern male, characterized by flirtatiousness and lacking spirituality,” said Manuel Jover, a French journalist and author of a book on Christ in art. He said the question traditionally raised is not about the “effeminate” nature of Christ. “The history of art has seen many Christ figures that were somewhat androgynous,” he said, noting the examples of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” or Michelangelo’s nude “Christ”. “This characteristic has long been synonymous with sensitivity, gentleness, and refinement.”
Instead, the question that arose in the history of painting is how to represent the beauty of Christ. “Can we give him a beautiful body when his life on Earth has nothing to do with seduction?” Jover asked. “The beauty of Christ is understood as a reflection of interior beauty, a sign of moral and spiritual superiority, rather than beauty in itself,” he said.
You Might Also Like: