Friday, December 19, 2008

AltXmasArt 6: San José (Saint Joseph)

“San José (Saint Joseph)” by Armando Lopez, 2008. Oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches.
The Christ child is usually pictured with his mother, but he makes a rare father-and-son appearance in “San José (Saint Joseph)” by Armando Lopez. Treasuring this scene of fatherly bonding is a way to reclaim the tender, nurturing side of men. The painting provides an important balance to the flood of Madonna-and-child images that circulate during the Christmas season. The Bible provides scant information about Joseph, but the few references do suggest that he was a working man of faith, kindness an compassion. According to the gospel of Matthew, Joseph was shocked to find out that his fiancé Mary was pregnant -- before they had “come together.” He decided to divorce her, and do it quietly to avoid exposing her to public disgrace. Then an angel came in a dream to reassure Joseph that Mary was carrying God’s own son. Joseph stood by Mary, perhaps saving her from being stoned to death for adultery. The rest is history. There is even less information about how Joseph interacted with Jesus. The lack of historical record leaves artists free to imagine Jesus and Joseph together. Lopez paints a Jesus who is no baby, but appears to be a young boy. The father and son are deeply connected, almost becoming one body. They face each other, but their gazes do not quite meet, for Jesus is looking upward past Joseph, perhaps toward his heavenly father. Lopez is a Tarascan native born in the small village of Santa Maria in the southwest Mexican state of Michoacan. Now living in Mexico, he uses both native Tarascan and Catholic imagery in his art, which has been featured in exhibitions across the Americas. The rich colors and stylized bodies, especially Joseph’s elongated neck in “San José,” also call to mind the work of popular 20th- century Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. Please come back tomorrow for AltXmasArt 7: “Joseph and the Christ Child” by Father John Giuliani

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