Artistic Syncretism

Artistic Syncretism

In the case of the sculpture that bears the name “Syncretism”, and that now adorns one of the central ridges of Federalismo Avenue, it has, and to spare, all the elements in its composition to bear the title of “Syncretism”.

Artistic Works in Guadalajara México

Now, why does the work cause so much controversy and animosity among certain sectors of the Catholic flock? This task requires a whole work of anthropology and social psychology; but venturing, hypothetically, some possible explanations, it could be said that it is partly due to the fact of splicing an image authenticated by Catholic orthodoxy as sacred with another already typified, by Torquemada, as pagan and belonging to an idolatrous and polytheistic cult.

The divine and the demonic, for all theistic religion, such as the Christian one that highlights its insurmountable and antithetical duality, these two principles can only be represented by sacred art in open confrontation; under the only possible representation: that of the submission or annihilation of evil.

Let us think, for example, of the sculpture of Saint George or that of Saint Michael and the Dragon, or that of the Virgin Mary crushing the head of the serpent; If we reversed the roles of the victor and the vanquished in any of these images, the result would be an impossible and unacceptable work for Christian doctrine.

Work of art in Guadalajara

On the contrary, in the work “Sincretismo” the two serpents of the Coatlicue are not there to represent the demonic, their intention is to symbolize fertility and mother Earth; under these connotations, it is then justified that they frame the Virgin Guadalupe. However, this is precisely one of the work’s weaknesses, that it is not easily understood.

Personally, I don’t dare to classify it as ill-intentioned; but it is unfortunate, due to the fact that it requires, for its correct appreciation, a couple of explanations like the previous ones; which, incidentally, do not necessarily convince at all to accept the cultural and historical values ​​of sculpture as good.

In other words, the sculpture communicates and conveys a discourse easily overlooked by many believers; When contemplating the work, the meanings that jump to the sight of the most fervent faithful are: blasphemy, sacrilege and idolatry. These are the ideas most clearly conveyed by “Syncretism.” The other meanings, linked to the Coatlicue, are somewhat veiled, perhaps largely due to the little visual brilliance of the work.

Due to its shape and design, the work “Sincretismo” is of a very particular beauty; However, already in its realization, as a sculpture mounted in a public space and therefore in full view of all, its aesthetic attributes tend to be demerited; its composition in folds in the style of confetti ornaments make it somewhat difficult to appreciate its silhouettes, already overshadowed by the ocher color of the work; also its location and size also emphasize its lackluster; in such a way that it is difficult not to prefer it in a more modest version and integrated into the collection of a modern art museum, or perhaps in a more modest size it could be sold as a piece of art in an auction or gallery.

Obviously it is not a religious image that could receive the corresponding blessing and then be an object of veneration; the correct thing would be to classify it as a piece of urban decoration that pays homage to the mestizo cultural condition of the Mexican.

But if we were to place the work of the master Ismael Vargas in Paseo de la Reforma, surely no one would protest. “Syncretism” would have, from said capital context, enough contextual, cultural and historical elements to sustain and justify itself; Since, to begin with, the two sacred representations that make it up: the Virgin Guadalupe and the Coatlicue, reside in the megalopolis and are largely present or immersed in the social imaginary of its inhabitants; that is, they are part of their collective identity.

Syncretism Sculpture in Guadalajara

To the people of Guadalajara, in particular, the so-called Tonantzin says little and refers less to their idiosyncratic and cultural roots. Perhaps by borrowing her brushes and easel from Frida Kahlo, an image of Beatriz Hernández and Cihualpilli holding the same heart would have better conveyed the idea of ​​cultural fusion or syncretism.

From our cultural environment in Guadalajara, Coatlicue, the lady in the skirt of snakes, is an idol; instead, the Virgin of Guadalupe is an image worthy of veneration. When juxtaposing or fusing them, the result, in the light of the Catholic faith, is that the Coatlicue cannot be made sacred and instead the Dark Virgin if she is desecrated by implicitly comparing her with a pagan idol.

If there is a disqualification that hurts and conflicts the Catholic faithful, it is that of being branded idolaters. The creation of Ismael Vargas crystallizes that idea; It gives a tangible argument to the disqualification of many Christian churches that see in the worship of images an open act of idolatry.

“Sincretismo” is a piece of urban art very symptomatic of postmodern culture; makes manifest that post-secularization of which José Manuel Mardones speaks when he explains, together with Peter Berger, that the sacred or religious, in their most lowered and profane versions, have returned to public spaces from the hands no longer of the hierophants (or holy men or consecrated) but of the laity or, as in this case, by the initiatives of the civil authorities. These same authorities supported and promoted the Pilgrimage of Silence and the pain altars that were mounted in the traditional Analco neighborhood; incidentally, both religious events did not elicit the slightest protest.

Art work
Syncretism by Isamael Vargas

It must be understood that leaving religious matters in the hands of public officials is extremely risky; since they are not qualified and less accredited to take on such responsibilities and just as they can be right it is also possible that they end up hurting devotional susceptibilities.

The work will surely end up being forgotten; or perhaps future generations, already formed in this growing climate of plurality and religious openness, will revalue it during a Guadalajara Tour or simply pass it by.


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