Another dodgy art restoration raises alarm in Spain

The latest restoration botch job has won comparisons with Ecce Homo

The latest restoration botch job has won comparisons with Ecce Homo

Spain is getting a reputation for not taking care of its cultural heritage as preservation experts slam the latest bodged restoration project.

An amateur artist in the Spanish town of Peñaranda de Bracamonte took a restoration of a 17th century statue into their own hands recently, with less than satisfactory results.

The unknown parishioner gave the statue of Saint Michael the Archangel in the Chapel of Humilladero a makeover, much to the dismay of restoration experts.

The original statue is pictured on the right and the restored version on the left.

The original statue is pictured on the right and the restored version on the left.

The restoration attempt, which includes adding a pair of pronounced black eyebrows and giving the statue a shiny coat of paint, was uncovered during a recent visit to the town of Peñaranda de Bracamonte, near Salamanca by a group of Heritage experts.

It had not been reported to the bishop or local authorities and had, until then, seemingly gone unnoticed.

The restoration attempt has been criticized by experts, who argue that Spain is not doing enough to protect its cultural heritage.

“Our work is very serious, professional and specific and not as easy as you might imagine,” María Luisa López, secretary of the Association of Conservationists and Restorers of Castilla and Leon, told Catalan daily, La Vanguardia.

The association has criticized the lack of legal protection for artwork and items of cultural heritage in Spain, as well as the absence of a general governing body that can oversee and approve restorations.

Spain is no stranger to botched restorations, the most famous being the repainting of Ecce Homo, which made international headlines after a Spanish pensioner’s attempt to spruce up a fresco of Christ went terribly wrong.

Cecilia Giménez gained worldwide notoriety when she repainted the fresco in her hometown of Borja, near Zaragoza, in 2012.

The botch job had an unforeseen affect on the town; thousands of visitors flocked to see the painting, which had become the butt of a million jokes.

The town is now receiving so many tourists it is building a visitors’ centre dedicated to its most infamous artwork, which has even inspired an opera.

And Spanish botch jobs do not end at paintings. The restoration of an ancient Moorish castle in 2016 gained worldwide notoriety after an architect turned it into something resembling a concrete block.

The Castillo de Matrera, in Cádiz, southern Spain was built in the ninth century and has been a national monument since 1949.

“They’ve wrecked it,” said one local following the restoration attempt, although the architect was vindicated when his controversial restoration won a prestigious architecture prize.

Published TheLocal 24 July 2016

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