I’m sure many people have heard of the recent “Disaster” as it is now being called. Cecilia Gimenez, an 81 year-old woman from Borja has attempted to restore a 120 year-old fresco painting by Elias Garcia Martinez. The fresco was painted inside of the Santuario de Misericodia church in Borja. Mrs. Gimenez supposedly lives next door to the church and has restored the garments of Christ in the painting before.
Here is the original:
The church was looking to have the fresco restored. The grand daughter of the Elias Garcia Martinez had actually made a contribution to have the painting restored. The restored painting was to look something like this:
- Two Sides To The Story
So what happened? This is were the story becomes confusing. Mrs. Giminez claims that she had permission from the church priest to restore the painting. She also claims that everyone around her saw her working on it. The church is always open and people are always walking in and out. Teresa Garcia, the grand-daughter of the original artist, stated that Mrs. Gimenez has worked and reworked the red garment of the fresco before, but this time took it too far when she went to the face. A video interview can be seen here.
Mrs. Giminez claims that everything was fine until she stopped halfway in the process and left with her son. When she returned to finish the painting, the whole village was there refusing to let her near it. She had produced this on top of the original artwork:
Here is another video of her explaining herself:
She currently has locked herself in her home and is having anxiety attacks because of the negative press. Professional restorer’s are in the process of questioning her to see what she used on the fresco in an attempt to remove what she has used and properly restore it.
It appears that though this woman’s intentions were good, she has altered instead of restored this 120 year-old fresco. After reviewing several reports on this story, it appears that she is the current laughing-stock of the art world. I am not here to laugh at her or poke fun at her, but to ask several questions about the overall event because I believe the world’s reaction is interesting. I have seen art in museums, at auctions, and in galleries that is not as technically sound as Mrs. Giminez’s restoration and those works were or are worth millions of dollars and the artists are considered geniuses. Is it the circumstance that causes her painting to not now be worth millions of dollars and her to be a genius? Marcel Duchamp placed a mustache on Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and was praised for it. Is it because she hasn’t attempted to apply a deep philosophy or meaning behind her attempt that makes her lack the genius the art world attributes to others of similar artistic caliber? If so, is it even the artwork the art world is praising or has the art world forgone visual art altogether? Does a deep thought attributed to a painting what makes it worth millions and since she lacks one her’s is a failure? Is all it takes are the artist’s thoughts, the artist’s intentions, behind the artwork to make it ‘great’? If so, weren’t her intentions good? Does that in any way increase the value of the work? I would love to hear opinions.
Thank you for reading,