The Contemporary Pope

The Vatican may not be known for its contemporary art. However, that image is changing.
Meeting with Spanish artist Domingo Zapata and former Banksy protégé Mr. Brainwash the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is bringing contemporary art to the Vatican.
An unlikely pairing – they’ve teamed up to create a new canvas in celebration of immigrants.

They’ve come together to create a canvas for charity, in the hopes of bringing awareness to the cause. And while this pairing may seem obscure for a lot of us it is not the first time for the two.
Initially meeting last May for another charitable matter – Zapata would film and play the encounter on a billboard in Times Square for a month. Graciously, that canvas would go on to sell for $500,000.

Zapata told Riddle Magazine “I have literally never been as happy as this.
The Pope painted in front of me. I’m ecstatic about the results”. Naming Mr. Zapata as an ambassador for the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes Foundation, the pontiff’s organization for promoting arts education. The Pope’s quest to reintegrating contemporary artist into the Vatican seems to be unyielding.

Ingratiating himself among numerous Hollywood celebrities, Mr. Zapata has now also earned the approval of The Pope. However, he remains on the outskirts of the contemporary art world.

When the New York Times profiled Zapata in 2013, major galleries and critics were quick to admit their ignorance.
Said dealer Zach Feuer: “I don’t know who he is.” However, with the benediction of The Pope, the outcome will be different.

The collaboration made by Zapata, Mr. Brainwash, and Pope Francis will be sold at an auction to benefit the pontiff’s art foundation in the future.

The Progressive Pope

Pope Francis painting with Zapata
Pope Francis painting a canvas with Domingo Zapata

The Pope’s progressive views on art or polarizing subjects isn’t a new phenomenon.
Historically perhaps the world’s most important art patron, The Pope hopes to once again work closely with contemporary artists.

At the 2017 press screening of the film Pope Francis: My Idea of Art Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums noted “The art of mercy is truly Pope Francis’s idea of art. It is art that is directed toward the humble”.

Writing in his book, “The Vatican Museums have to be the most beautiful place and the most hospitable. It must throw open its doors to the world,”.
Observing the teachings of the Bible, the poor’s inability to pay should not prevent them from seeing the church’s impressive art collection.

Heralding in more accepting vision for The Catholic Church is not always easy – but The Pope has taken it all in stride.
Rather than adhere with old traditions he has taken to the old message with a fresh voice and new eyes. Supporting those who would otherwise be marginalized.
Not only with compassion and kindness but by taking an active role in raising awareness and funds to their plight.

Pope Francis in Castel Gandolfo with two statues by Alejandro Marmo
Pope Francis in Castel Gandolfo praying in front of two statues by Alejandro Marmo © L’Osservatore Romano
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