In 2006, Spanish painter and ceramist Miquel Barceló finished a five-year intervention on the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Palma in Spain. A ceramic mural spanning 300 square meters is a reference to the story in the Gospel of John of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with a just a few fish and some loaves of bread. Barceló, an agnostic, peppered the work with equal parts wonder and what we could call the fear of God. The cathedral takes on a cave-like appearance and there are more than a few skulls to be found.
The Guardian states of the work:
The bishop who commissioned the work died in 2003 and is buried in the chapel floor. “You could say he forms part of the foundations,” Barceló told the newspaper La Razón. The artist, who was born in Majorca, said he had tried to respect the colouring and atmosphere of the cathedral, painting the chapel windows in grey to keep a sombre tone. “The things contemporary artists do in historical spaces are often a disaster,” he said.
The cathedral’s new bishop is delighted with the work. “It is a way of bringing man closer to the mysteries of the beauty of God,” said Bishop Jesús Murgui. But although Barceló describes his work as “spiritual”, it has not converted him to Christianity. He will not be among those queuing to take communion when the refurbished chapel is blessed today.
We’re fans of process photography at CFile. Such photographs often provide important clues to the character of a particular work, insight into the artist that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. We’re in luck in the cathedral’s case because Barceló was accompanied by photographer Agustí Torres, whose lens captured the Spanish painter at work. The book, “La Catedral Bajo el Mar” (The Cathedral Under the Sea) was published by Galaxia Gutenberg and is still available online. We’re running a few of these fascinating pictures here.
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