Spain, vandalized work with half-naked Madonna. Right-wing parties called for its removal

A work by artist Charo Corrales was vandalized in Spain because it was deemed blasphemous. Right-wing parties called for its removal.

A work by artist Charo Corrales (Cádiz, 1968) exhibited in the city of Córdoba at the Galería de Presidencia del Palacio de la Merced was vandalized in Spain: the work, titled Con flores a María, is a photomontage reproducing an image of the Virgin Mary to which the Spanish artist has superimposed her self-portrait, echoing a famous Spanish artwork, the Immaculate Conception known as theImmaculate Conception of Aranjuez, painted around 1675 by Bartolomé Murillo. However, the work has caused much controversy because of the manner in which the Madonna was depicted: she is in fact half-naked and holds a hand on her pubis, enough for many to consider it blasphemous. The work is intended to make people reflect on the stereotypes that have accompanied the representation of women in the history of art (this is an all-female exhibition, titled Maculadas sin remedio, and composed of the works of fourteen women artists who reflect on the role of women in contemporary society: the exhibition was strongly supported by the Equal Opportunity Department of the province of Cordova).

Yet, Corrales’ work has been misunderstood: “it is not the Immaculata that you touch,” the artist explained to El País newspaper, “it is me. The painting is a photomontage with a photo of me and a blue drape covering me. I simply claim female sexuality and I did not want to offend the Catholic religion at all, but to give visibility to women artists [Corrales is also curator of the exhibition, ed.] in a reflection on the stereotypes of patriarchal society. The other 13 women artists and I are asking for respect toward freedom of expression. We have to ask ourselves what country we are building for episodes like this to happen.” The incident in question occurred yesterday morning: the Corrales painting was torn by unknown persons, so much so that it had to be removed from the wall. According to Cordova Provincial Councilor for Culture Marisa Ruz, the gallery’s security cameras recorded images of the vandals’ attack, so it will be possible to know who carried out this act.

The case also came to the attention of Spain’s Minister of Culture, José Guirao, who called it “an intolerant, fomenting, and indecent attack,” and sided in defense of art. “It may be okay that there are people who felt offended,” he said in an interview with Ser radio, “but the way to solve the problem is not to destroy the work, if anything to file a complaint.”

In the days leading up to the attack, the work and the exhibition had been targeted by right-wing parties: in particular, Partido Popular (Spain’s main center-right party), Ciudadanos (another center-right formation), and Vox (Spain’s ultra-right party) had called for Corrales’ photomontage to be withdrawn from the exhibition as “offensive to religious sentiment.” The PP has stated that it intends to file a complaint against the exhibition precisely because it is offensive to religious sentiment, also due to the fact that there would be other works on display that are considered offensive to Catholicism. And now the oppositions see the statements of the three right-wing parties as the trigger for the vandalism: “It was these intolerant speeches that generated the attack against the work,” pointed out Ana Guijarro, councillor for equal opportunities of the province of Cordova. “We have witnessed a brutal reactionary movement and incitement to hatred.” Even, according to the alderman, several people went to the exhibition with the intention of damaging the painting: hence, the decision to withdraw it. Now, the province of Cordova will consider whether to file a complaint in turn.

What happened to Corrales is, unfortunately, not an isolated case: a number of Catholic associations recently filed a lawsuit (later dismissed) against the actor Willy Toledo, whom they said was guilty of offending religion in some of his shows, and the same happened at the carnival in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, whose organization was denounced by the Catholic Lawyers Association for a drag queen show (in which one of the drag queens dressed as the Virgin), also considered to be offensive to the dignity of Catholic sentiments. And that this is a crescendo, according to many, is also shown by the fact that the Maculadas sin remedio show had already been presented without problems in other cities.

Pictured is a detail of Con flores a María, the damaged work by Charo Corrales.

Spain, vandalized work with half-naked Madonna. Right-wing parties called for its removal
Spain, vandalized work with half-naked Madonna. Right-wing parties called for its removal

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