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Posts tagged ‘Semana Santa’

Semana Santa – inspiration for my art

Yesterday, I introduced you to the endlessly fascinating and enduringly captivating Spanish processions which run through the streets of countless Spanish towns during this special week, Semana Santa, approaching Easter Sunday. From the moment I first saw one of these processions, I was overwhelmed by the spectacle. On the one hand, the hooded figures, marching by candlelight besides a wax figure of a dead or dying Christ make for a disturbing, slightly sinister sight. But look beyond the costume, to the breadth of participants involved, and to the widespread interaction of all of Spanish society which comes out to see the processions, and one is filled with an overwhelming sense of warmth and emotion. All of this combined makes for a substantial source of inspiration, and it is for this reason that Semana Santa has cropped up in my art work so often. I’ve now featured the parades in four of my major works and several smaller works. Nonetheless, I still don’t feel like I have truly captured the sheer scale and wonder of the spectacle, but hope that one day I will create a piece with which I can be truly satisfied.

Catholicism, Catholicism (España Volver II) (2009 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown) Oil on canvas

In this, the second canvas from my España Volver collection, Catholicism, Catholicism,  the Semana Santa processions forms the centrepiece of what is a generalised depiction of the continuing importance of Catholicism in Spain’s current culture, as well as its historical significance. Here the nazareños are shown metamorphosing from the Sierra mountains behind the city of Granada, the site of one of Catholicism’s most significant defeats over Muslim rule during the reconquista. To the right of the nazareños is a typical statue of Mary as paraded through the streets on tronos. This is not to be confused with the Mary sent out to sea by fishermen as depicted on the left on the canvas, this detail depicting the festival of Maria del Carmen, whereupon fishermen across the Costa del Sol give thanks to Mary for keeping them safe every July.

My depiction of Semana Santa in Catholicism, Catholicism was in turn based upon this study I made a few months before of a group of nazareños during Marbella’s Domingo de Ramos (palm sunday) procession.

Grupo de Nazareños (2009 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown) Oil on canvas

A Semana Santa procession also features rather prominently in the third canvas of my Seville Tryptic, appropriately so since the Semana Santa processions in Seville are by far the most famous.

Seville Triptych - Canvas III (Oil on canvas, 2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

It surprises me that so few people outside of Spain actually know what these processions are. When most English people see my paintings, they think I’ve portrayed the Ku Klux Klan – as if. This observation causes me relentless frustration, and I hope that through my art, photography and now my blog, I can help to share Spain’s Easter spectacles around the world.

That’s all for now. But check The Daily Norm this Easter Sunday, where a special Sunday Supplement will feature my most substantial (and recent) depiction of Semana Santa.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work 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.

Semana Santa – Easter Spanish Style

Here in the UK, you know when Easter is coming because, from around January time, they start stocking mini eggs, cream eggs and progressively greater and greater stocks of foil covered novelty eggs, bunnies and other such creatures until the day itself, after which time the egg prices are cut savagely before picnic and gardening gear replaces its space on the shelves. This is all very well, but when celebrated through an egg count alone, Easter becomes merely an excuse to take a few days off work, and an attempted resistance to the chocolate influx all around. By contrast, in Spain, and in particular in the region of Andalucia, the festival of Easter, and in particular this week – Holy Week (“Semana Santa”) – brings with it a uniquely special feeling of celebration, family and spirituality.  I am not trying to say that every household around the world should celebrate the Christian story when the Easter festival comes along. Nonetheless, there is something deeply emotional, integral and raw about the outward manifestation of the Catholic celebrations of the Easter story in Spain, and I can’t help but wish that these celebrations were mirrored elsewhere.

After a decade of attending Spain’s lavish Easter celebrations, the Spanish Semana Santa festivities have become emblematic, to my mind, of Easter time. The celebrations largely comprise long processions of brotherhoods (“hermandades”) from a town’s local churches, each of whom carry “pasos” or “tronos” –  lifelike wood or plaster sculptures of individual scenes of the events that happened between Jesus’ arrest and his burial – throughout the town. The tronos, which are usually huge, golden, elaborately carved constructions topped with candles aplenty, are then physically carried on the necks of costaleros. The tronos are accompanied by nazareños – penitents who, most strikingly of all, are usually to be found wearing conical hats with covered faces called “capirotes”, and by brass and military bands.  What with the moving emotional accompaniment of the bands, and the vast numbers of nazareños and costaleros making up the parade, carrying candles, often walking on bare feet to demonstrate penitence and faith, and the pasos, glowing in candlelight, swaying from side to side to the rhythm of the marching costaleros, these parades make for stunning viewing. And what is perhaps even more stunning, is the way in which these parades bring communities together – hundreds of families, couples, tourists and visitors old and young alike crowd the streets of Spain to see these parades – and involved in the parades themselves are people of all ages. How beautiful to see these processions taken so seriously, especially by teenagers – in the UK they’d most likely be looting the shops for Easter Eggs.

I leave you, without further ado, with a selection of my photos from the parades I have seen over the years, largely in Marbella. For the most spectacular parades of all, Seville is the place to go, but I have not yet had that fortune. Nevertheless, the processions of Semana Santa have remained a constant inspiration to me, and this week, I will feature a number of my art works which have taken their inspiration directly from these stunning parades. Hasta lugeo.

 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork/ photographs, 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.