Domingo de Ramos
It’s Palm Sunday and all over the world, people will be marking the start of Easter Week. I’m not that religious myself (I went to Catholic school and sung in a church choir throughout my childhood, but that’s probably the extent of it), but there is something undeniably enchanting about the celebrations which are afoot in the Christian church at this time of year, especially in Southern Spain.
In celebrating Semana Santa, the Spanish go all out in a devotional show which makes the spine tingle with its emotional impact. Every evening in Spanish towns and cities throughout the country, but particularly in the South, brotherhoods (hermanidades) of various churches dust off the various statues of Jesus and Mary which usually sit in the enclaves and side chapels of their churches, dress them up in flowers and candles, and with great fanfare parade these statues upon gilded tronos around the streets of their respective cities. The hermanidades themselves are likely to parade as nazareños, the slightly sinister masked figures who accompany the floats, with their pointed conical hats carrying candles which sway to the rhythm of the parade. Seeing row upon row of these figures lined up in the street is a moving and dramatic sight.
My first ever experience of one of the Semana Santa parades was in my (sometimes) hometown of Marbella on palm sunday. Decked in rich velvet costumes of red, green and white, the nazareños carrying their heavily decorated silver and gold crosses and candlesticks completely inspired me, and I painted this quick oil painting named after the day of the parade which inspired it – Domingo de Ramos.
Of course those who know my art will know that this is but one artwork which has been inspired by the moving spectacle of Spanish Semana Santa, but as it depicts Palm Sunday, it seemed only appropriate to share it with you today.
And if you like my artwork, don’t forget that all of my Spain-inspired paintings will be on display at my forthcoming exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, starting one month today!
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com
Nicholas de Lacy-Brown’s new solo exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, will be at London’s Strand Gallery from 13 – 18 May 2014. For more details, click here.
Very interesting to see a foreign perspective of the Semana Santa in Spain, especially if you first got to know from Marbella which is just round the corner for me.
I think when you come from outside and see the number of people involved it may look like everyone’s there, but believe me when I tell you there are still many who couldn’t care less about it. Many of us see it as a noisy celebration done by those guys from the “hermandades” who either belong to important families or want to show off as if they were important guys.
I have a very deep respect for people’s faith, however, for the majority of the people involved is just a celebration to fake once a year and have a walk as close as possible to the Mayor and talk about business and being seen. Participating in it proves you have the money to pay the expensive costumes and the “hermandades” fees.
I guess the real meaning of the Semana Santa is lost these days.
Hey thanks for your really interesting comment. It’s fascinating to get this “insider’s view” on the truth behind the Semana Santa parades. To be honest it doesn’t surprise me – I often thought that some of the devotional aspects bordered on the superficial, especially when you see the guys dressed as nazareños wearing trainers and chatting to each other over a cigarette! Still, as an artist, it’s the visual aspect which fascinates me the most, and I guess I’ll always love it even when, as you say, the real meaning has been diluted.
Visually it’s amazing, quite scary really with a look that seems inherited from the inquisodores and blood and suffering everywhere