Conservative Roman Catholics in Seville, Spain have deemed a poster of Jesus Christ, created to promote Easter week, offensive.
The poster depicts Christ half nude with a beard and long hair, his lower-half covered by a white cloth, in front of a saturated red backdrop. It was designed by Seville–based artist Salustiano Garcia.
Holy week, which includes Good Friday and Easter Sunday, honors the death and resurrection of Jesus. Seville is known for its huge festivities around the occasion.
The council of brotherhoods and guilds, which oversees Easter week events in the Spanish city, claim the poster demonstrates “the radiant side of Holy Week” in the “purest style of this prestigious painter,” Yahoo reported.
The leader of Spain’s ruling socialist party and former mayor of Seville Juan Espadas fought for the artwork, arguing that it combined both “tradition and modernity”.
The Archbishop of Seville likewise defended the work as an act of artistic freedom.
Many, however, decried the purported sexuality of the poster.
“It’s absolutely shameful and an aberration,” wrote the conservative Catholic IPSE, adding that the portrayal was “effeminate” and “camp”, demanding a public apology from the artist.
The leader of the far-right Vox party Javier Navarro added that the poster “sought to provoke” with little effort to encourage Holy Week participation.
The artist told right-leaning ABC newspaper, however, that the inspiration came from his son.
“To see sexuality in my image of Christ, you must be mad,” Garcia said, claiming there wasn’t anything in his painting that “has not already been represented in artworks dating back hundreds of years”.
The poster’s fate remains unclear, though a petition on change.org seeking to repeal the poster by the Seville’s city hall received more than 12,000 signatures in three days.