The most recent work of Jorge Manilla shows more than ever the colourful and religious traces of his homecountry Mexico. His creations are a thought-out and consistent continuation of his previous work, where religion, myths and spirituality constantly determine the character of his jewel-objects.
A couple of 17th century Christ’ statues were the starting point for a further investigation of symbolism and material. As a symbiosis of a Catholic and an Indian faith, the Mexican figure of Christ can be distinguished by the extreme representation of his suffering. Cuts, bruises, gaping wounds and a lot of blood characterize these figures. This kind of representation incorporates an authentic Indian way of thinking where its religious rites, like human sacrifices, come into prominence. From this point of view the figure of Christ was seen as an equal, who portrayed the sacrificed.
Next to the specific focus on these characteristic wounds, the artist also goes deeply into the materials used to make the original Christ’ statues. Amate-paper (from tree-bark) and different woodpastes represent the authentic Indian culture. These materials were also used to make the statues portables.
You can say that the Mexicans adopted Christ. They adore him, carry him with them and see themselves as him. They transform in some kind of ‘city Christs’ who carry a lot of grief around. The suffering and surviving in a city full of contrasts, where battles are fought every day just to survive, well in those battles faith is essential and the figures of Christ give something to hold on to.
The colourful and freakish looking amulets of Jorge Manilla form confronting jewel-objects that attract and reject but above all fascinate. As fragments of an extreme realistic figure of Christ, they can be worn as a protection, but also as an intriguing and enigmatic object.Evelien Bracke