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Centuries-Old Spanish Sculptures Restored


Religious artifacts have yet again fallen prey to amateur artists wanting to jazz them up with, for example, a fresh coat of vibrant paint. The latest incident arose in El Ranadoiro, a small town in Spain’s Asturias region.

Sculptures in an El Ranadoiro chapel dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries received a makeover from local Maria Luisa Menendez, one of just 28 residents living in the town. She reportedly received permission from the parish priest to paint the figures, according to newspaper El Comercio.

After Menendez was through, the wooden sculptures of Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus and Saint Peter were painted in fuchsia, pistachio green, sky blue and bordeaux red. Aside from being painted with serious side-eyes, the Virgin got a new green hairdo.

​Photos shared on social media by critics of the so-called restoration even suggest that lil baby Jesus might be getting ready to join a football team. Say hello to soccer games on the weekends, Mary!

“I’m not a professional painter, but I always liked to do it,” newspaper La Rioja quoted Menendez saying. “And the figures really needed to be painted. So I painted them as I could, with the colors that looked good to me, and the neighbours liked it.”

While the neighbors might be hip to the new groove, not everyone is thrilled. Genaro Alonso, the principality’s education adviser, told the Efe news agency that the work was more of a “vengeance rather than a restoration.” He’s since called for an investigation into the matter.

​This incident comes months after a 16th century wooden sculpture of Saint George got its own makeover in June. Over yonder in the northern Spanish town of Estella, George’s new look earned similar critiques as town officials looked on, completely horrified at how the figure ended up transforming into a depiction of character Tintin.

​Spain previously sent officials into a fit in 2012 when the restoration of the fresco “Ecce Homo” wound up looking like a kindergartener’s watercolor painting. While many critics quickly labeled it an unholy mistake at the time, the work of amateur painter Cecilia Gimenez has since allowed the small village in Borja to turn a profit, thanks to tourists wanting to catch a glimpse.

Only time will tell if El Ranadoiro will see such a success with its own “masterpiece.”