2011 Spring Matthew Flocco Temple Rome

Il volto, parte 2

Beyond the faces of the people I met, there were faces made of art. Since this is Carnival, I’ll focus on the tradition and the religious aspects of these faces.

In Barcelona, we were able to see modern art faces at the Joan Miro Art Museum, Cubist-like faces on the Passion Facade of La Sagradia Familia, and realistic faces on the Nativity Facade of La Sagrada Familia.

Joan Miro was a surrealist painter. His museum was awesome but a bit repetitive. Half the paintings are called “Woman with bird.” These are the ones that have very flat faces, like a distorted abstract-y cartoon. What was really neat about seeing modern art (besides the fact that I haven’t seen any yet in Rome), is that it’s a little more interactive. You can do a few things with it. One, you can look at the picture and try to guess what the artist is conveying; two, look at it and create your own story/interpretation; three, just look at it for its aesthetic of shapes, colors and lines. I often found myself doing the second one, just for kicks.

Joan Miro painting, typical style of geometric shapes and abstract lines and colors.

Going along with the same modern-art idea, I want to talk to you about La Sagrada Familia. This “Church of the Holy Family” was created by Antoni Gaudi, the most famous artist in Barcelona. It won’t be completed until 2026, 100 years after construction started. This is my favorite church in the world, topping the Vatican. It was expensive to go inside, 10.50 for students, and even more expensive to get the audio guide and the ticket to the lift (about 16 euro total), but it was all worth it. I know (or hope) my money is going towards its completion. Definitely go inside by yourself with the audio guide if you can spare a few hours. I could have spent a good four hours there, but it closed so I had to leave after three. Anyway…I digress. The faces…

La Sagrada Familia has two completed facades; neither of which is the main entrance. This part has yet to be completed. The Passion Facade acts as the main entrance to the building, and has extremely moving images of the story of Christ’s final days. The most tragic are the following: Peter, who denied knowing his friend Jesus three times; Judas, who has his head in his hands during the Last Supper and kisses Christ on the cheek before betraying him; Pontious Pilate’s wife when she looks on as her husband condemns a just and innocent man; Pilate when he displays Christ to the people below; and that of Christ himself.

Except for Peter, the ones of Jesus are the most moving and make you stop in your tracks. When he is standing next to Pilate before the crowd, you can see an absolute loss for words. It’s heavily contrasted by the black stare of the Roman soldier on his right hand side (whose helmet influenced the Storm Troopers in Star Wars. Cool huh?) When you walk into the building, you are forced to pass by Christ clinging to a pillar. Some interpretations (like the audio guide), said that this was a depiction of his loneliness in the hours before his death. To me it seemed like the scene where he is ready to be flogged 39 times by the Roman soldiers. Either way, the face is lonely and distraught. Even if you’re not Christian, looking at these stories from a strictly historical perspective and seeing the art displayed is something incredible to see.

When you pass through the church, you can see the Nativity Facade on the East side. This shows details of the story of Jesus’ birth and life growing up. The most moving faces are not those of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but actually of King Herod and the children he is slaughtering. This is located on the left hand side facing the facade. This portico symbolizes hope (the other two porticos are charity and faith). This shows a hope for a future kingdom, a hope that the Christ child will bring.

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