In a lively discussion at Thaddaeus Ropac gallery in London, the Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie spilled the beans on his high-profile permanent commission for the historic Chiesa della Madonna della Mazza in Palermo. Ghenie made two site-specific paintings for the church that were very much not what you would expect to see in a Sicilian place of worship. In Ghenie’s reinterpretation of the theme, the individual in The Crucifixion (2019) is clothed in contemporary Adidas sportswear, while another figure is wrapped in an orange shroud, recalling the jumpsuits worn by prison inmates in the US.
Meanwhile, The Martyrdom of Father Pino Puglisi (2020) depicts the eponymous priest who was murdered in 1993 for openly challenging the Mafia. “I thought they [church officials] would freak out,” Ghenie said in his discussion with Nicholas Cullinan, the director of London’s National Portrait Gallery. Thankfully, his pictures got the greenlight from the godly authorities.