I have long been inspired by the Semana Santa parades which fill the streets of Spain with their melancholic processions at Easter time. Too many times I have berated the confusion of ignorant outsiders who see the parades as anachronistic, or worse still, reminiscent of the unthinkable 3Ks. In truth, they make for a stirring spectacle, no matter that their devotional repercussions are undoubtedly far weaker than they might have been 100, even 50 years ago. Yet with the sinister pointed masks of the nazareños, the swinging thrones lifted on high allowing a precious statue of Jesus or the Madonna to make its annual outing into the streets, and their moving brass band harmonies resonating throughout cobbled streets, Spain’s Easter parades are for me a highlight of the annual calendar.
Readers familiar with my blog will know that this will not be the first time I have painted Spain’s Easter parades. They feature in my Seville Triptych, my study of Domingo de Ramos, my Semana Santa code, and my painting Catholicism Catholicism. But these solemn spectacles never fail to move me, and it was during the afternoon in the week immediately preceding the parades that a moment’s reflection on what was to come brought this image sweeping before my eyes. That same evening I bought my canvas and set to work.
Featuring all of the various characteristics of the parades; the pointed hats of the nazareños, the enthroned statues of Jesus and Mary, the candles, trumpets and incense smoke, this new painting encapsulates Semana Santa, with each aspect reduced into an abstract form typical of my new style, and with a highly limited colour palette of deep blood red, yellows and touches of blue.
Asides from the forms, the title of the piece is something of a play on words. Todo recto in Spanish means straight on, like the direction of the parade, led by the trumpet. But to be todos rectos is to be literally all right, referring not only to the moral righteousness of those involved in the procession, but also eluding to the right wing politics with which the Spanish Catholic church was always historically associated. And of course to be recto is also to be straight. Enough said.
It’s a painting with which I am wholeheartedly delighted. A finely balanced addition to my new collection, and the many of my works which have been inspired by Easter in Spain.
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