Catalog edited on the occasion of the Fiercely Human exhibition.
This exhibition, produced in collaboration with the Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia and curated by its director, Pablo González Tornel, analyses Baroque sanctity through a selection of thirty-five Spanish paintings and sculptures and a few Italian examples that show the common intentions in the seventeenth-century Mediterranean area. It also offers a modern-day look at the arts as a vehicle for emotions, showing their validity in today's visual culture. These works display an almost photographic realism achieved through a naturalistic portrayal of faces, bodies, fabrics and objects, focused and contrasted lighting and monumental formats. As a result, Baroque images of saintliness are, at once, instruments of propaganda for faith and a universal and timeless representation of the suffering and weaknesses of these fiercely human beings.
For more than half a century, great Mediterranean artists such as Ribera, Cano, Vaccaro, Murillo, Giordano, Velázquez, Ribalta, Orrente, Martínez Montañés and Mena explored the relationship between realism and devotion, always guided by the crudest naturalism. In Valencia, Seville, Madrid, Milan and Naples, saints were taken down from altars and mingled with the faithful, appearing before them as beings of flesh, blood and tears. More humanised than ever, the heroes and heroines of Catholicism ceased to be icons and were presented as real people in a vast array of images created to persuade and move viewers at what was one of the culminating moments in Spanish art history.
More than three hundred years on, this portrayal of real, human and emotional saintliness has been transformed in today’s world to show that certain values of visual culture are timeless. Three masterpieces of contemporary Spanish art, products of the genius of Equipo Crónica, Darío Villalba and Antonio Saura, enter into frank dialogue with the Baroque and prove that today, as yesterday, emotions make the world go round.