Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Sacred Made Real review - Spanish paintings & sculptures at National Gallery Sainsbury Wing

Of the special exhibitions held at National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing, "The Sacred Made Real" stood out from the lot. Instead of mainly paintings and the very occasional contemporary sculptures, surreal and mostly life sized sculptures form were the main attractions in the exhibition.

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The interesting thing about this particular exhibition is that a number of the wooden masterpieces have rarely been publicly exhibited outside Spain. Being literally part of religion in Spain, these pieces adorned churches, chapels and even private alters of individuals.

The sculptures were so lifelike that you could be forgiven for flinching at the sight of the bruises and open wounds on Christ's back, not to mention the severed head of St. John the Baptist with its half opened eyes and anatomically correct cross section of its neck. You could feel Mary's (The Virgin of Sorrows) anguish looking at her downcast eyes even though three of her original four glass tears were missing.

Granted that the exhibition was a bit small but I thought that the entrance fee of £8 was reasonable for centuries old works that until recent years remained in the exclusive care of churches and wealthy individuals inside Spain. Look out for the 20 minute video clip in the film room just beside the shop outlet. That would give you a better perspective of the whole exhibition.

The Sacred Made Real
Spanish painting & sculpture 1600 - 1700
Sainsbury Wing
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
London WC2N 5DN
Tel: 020 7747 2885

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