The Crucifixion of Christ
Stand back or you will miss its monumental gravity as it looms over you with the stark modernity of a Rothko. Francisco de Zurbarán’s seventeenth century painting of the crucifixion of Christ dominates the walls with monolithic austerity, a sombre narrative of light and shadow. Not the staged theatrical chiaroscuro of Caravaggio, but one of religious fervor, distilled into restrained emotion. The source of light is unknown, but omnipresent like God.
The pale body of Christ, ribcage and musculature protruding with naturalistic accuracy, hangs limp and passive. Only the flesh is dead, all else is life, nuanced, subdued. The cool umber of the wood sustains the bloodless body, then melts to the ground in a column of minimal brushwork. Bright white drapery winds around the slain lamb like a matador’s cape. The large round nails upstage the pierced wounds with iron dignity. From the painter’s brush, the grit of the soul envelopes the cross with the dense blackness of lava.
At the foot of the cross on a small, transgressive swash of white paint, Zurbarán signs his name with chaotic discretion.
From the towers of Seville to the stones of Golgotha, Zurbarán’s giant still life of the crucifixion is a tribute to the sobriety of death and the triumph of sacrifice. No pain, no pathos, no lament. The deed is done. The aftermath overwhelms us with soothing solemnity.
Jocelyn Ajami is an award winning painter, independent documentary filmmaker, and writer. She is the founder of Gypsy Heart Productions which specializes in documentary projects related to cultural awareness and social justice. Among her award winning films are Gypsy Heart, Oasis of Peace and Queen of the Gypsies.
As a leader with a global perspective, Jocelyn has been the recipient of major grants from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Leadership Foundation, International Women's Forum, and the Goethe Institute. Most recently, Jocelyn received first prize for her poem, "Chicago Burning" from Poets and Patrons, Chicago. Born in Caracas, Venezuela and educated in Italy and France, Jocelyn speaks five languages. She works and lives in Chicago, USA.
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