This is not a foodie post.
It all started when my friend priest, craving for tempura, called me up to spirit him away from the meeting of chancellors at a Catholic establishment at U.N. Ave. We headed to the nearest Japanese fastfood that obviously carries tempura in its menu: Tempura Japanese Grill. But since the restaurant doesn’t open until 11AM, we waited al fresco on the tables set outside the establishment. We had 30 minutes to kill so we chatted away about his fellow priests’ botched plan of going to Corregidor. Then I noticed something from where I sit.
On an art gallery near us is a nook, and on the wall of that nook is this:
It’s a painted replica of the icon of the Blessed Mother and the Infant Jesus. A traditional Christian Orthodox religious art, this replica is well-rendered, surely done by someone knowledgeable with the aspects of Eastern Church’s iconography. It’s a bit bothering, however, to see how this beautiful painting was vandalized by making long and deep scratches on the face of Mary and Jesus.
It resulted to the peeling and breaking of the media. It leaves an ominous feeling of hatred and violence to those who views it.
Now for this story’s pay-off.
As I approached the painted wall, I was even more surprised to see yet another painting, done on an iron gate positioned at right angle with the Marian painting. It is this.
Painted on the gate is the Pantokrator, a yet another classic Eastern Church icon. Pantokrator literally means “All-Mighty” and is a title often ascribed to Jesus Christ. The image of the Pantokrator often depicts Christ holding a book with his left hand while his right hand is raised in a seemingly admonishing and teacherly (may ganun bang word?) manner. Here we can see the knowledge of the artist in Christian iconography by his attention to details: hair parted at the middle, gold-leaf rendering of the halo, the signiture icon-style of body dimensions and facial symmetry. Again, notice how the eyes of the Pantokrator was deliberately defaced by a vandalizer.
Notice too how on top of the Pantokrator, these portentious words were written.
Chilling, isn’t it? What could the artist mean by that? Is it a manipulative art that evokes guilt feelings from its beholders? Is it a pop-art that only hopes to shock but really doesn’t mean anything? Is it a cult art of some kind?
And then I noticed this:
Imagine the scandal this picture caused me. Aba eh malala pa pala kay Jose Antonio Montoya ang gagong painter nito ah! Nandun na ako, creative, artistic… Pero gawin bang deterrent ng mga Shaider (shy umihi kaya humarap sa pader) ang icon ni Jesus at ni Mary! Gusto kong magwala. Gusto kong mag-amok. It’s not amusing at all. I made my own parodies of biblical characters and the teachings of the Church, pero I’ve got my limits. Sobra na ito. Truth to tell, Im not easily scandalized, pero with this picture, I’m still upset as of writing.
My priest-friend lost his craving for tempura. We left even before the restaurant opened.