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The murals of the church of Ribadesella

Artists of heaven

The murals of the church of Ribadesella

Artists of heaven

The parish church of Ribadesella houses a contemporary treasure, the monumental work of three artists of the sky and the great scenes: The Uría Aza Brothers. Inside the temple we find four grandiose murals that began in the Second Republic and concluded in the postwar period. By means of nothing less than a civil war, difficulties of supply, problems of artistic financing, human miseries, dreamed happiness and a thousand avatars of a black age.


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Nowadays, after a careful restoration, these panels can be enjoyed in all their splendor that does not leave anyone indifferent.

The parish church of Santa María Magdalena, began to rise in 1924 on Romanesque remains, attending a project of M. García-Lomas and U. Manchobas and was destroyed in 1936. After the war was over, reconstruction was undertaken. A building of considerable proportions and that presents / displays a great cupola on the cruise. In the interior it shows the main altarpiece, carved in stone by the sculptor Emilio del Valle, according to a design by Gerardo Zaragoza and, on the dome of the transept, the mural paintings that give prominence to the temple, made by Bernardo, Antonio and Celestino Uría- Aza.

Peace, Guilt, Crime and Admonition they are the titles of the four great panels. The Uría Aza, local artists, began to paint them back in the 1935 year. They did it from the dome of the parish down, as mandated by the canons. It took almost 20 full years to finish the murals and more and more artists were making their way along the way. They mastered the technique and aspired to more expressiveness with each brushstroke.

They say the old people of the place that you had to see how the whole thing was forged. A picturesque montage, a pile of boards creating an old-fashioned square scaffolding, anchored by ropes to the four highest angles of the Church. It was pulled from one end and the armatroste moved from the center towards the walls. The Uría Aza were reckless. They manned that ship day in and day out, not like in the middle of a storm, dealing with dozens of sketches on brown paper, thousand paintbrushes, paint boats ...

We discovered curtains of strong relief. A kind of giants They seem to be born from "the cloth." They make effort. They hold the temple so that it does not fall apart. They are corpulent men, young athletic that the Uría Aza hired as models in the same town of Ribadesella. The ones that offered the most artistic possibilities were cloned everywhere, and they appear repeated in the unique scenographies of the painters. A face served for another ten, a back amounted to almost a hundred backs ...

The panels of the ecclesial cruise They collide face to face. From the paradise of fertility and calm of the "Happy Arcadia" to the horror of torn figures hanging on broken chains. In the middle, God opening clear. Church theologians and philosophy reprimand each other. And heresy along the middle path (The men who lost the line), shipwrecked in a turbulent atmosphere with no possible destination.

A field sown with the dead. Black and white horses, Apocalypse and hope to come. A man brakes the trot of a horse with impetus. He grabs him by the muzzle, defies his hooves and his fury as if he were struggling with himself in the background. There is another mounted on a black horse. His pose is so forced that it gives the feeling that someone in that human tangle pulls his hair to make him fall.

The execution is more master if it fits in the theme mural Admonition. In this, the experts comment, 20 years of artistic experimentation are enclosed. With four brush strokes the Uría Aza achieved a radical expressionism, apparently simple but tremendously meritorious. An eternal struggle of bodies. The chaos of the world and its flags. An anti-allegorical painting, mythical and pretentious, confronting itself with profound connotations for the spectator.

The dome, the first that was painted in the 30 years: the clergy and the powers that be. The faces here have a cold, calculating, cubist tint, a performance radically different from the rest of the paintings. In the center right of the dome is the Holy Trinity. It is barely noticeable from below since it used little pigmentation and a lot of water. A divine mystery, volatile. From the mainland it is like an act of faith, from close it does not pass in fact subtle.

The lightness it is also expressed in one of the portraits of God. It is located in the vault of one of the side chapels. A ray gives way to the divinity and the clouds flutter nervous opening spiral.

Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com


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