suffering the incomprehensible

…”these massive paintings confront one with what Sister Wendy Beckett has called their terribilita. Described by Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, as being among the most disturbing painted in the 20th century, Reichert’s Crucifixions command the viewer’s attention not only with their depiction of the magnitude of Christ’s agony but also with the eloquence of their painterly qualities. The American critic Donald Kuspit has written that both Picasso’s and Bacon’s Crucifixions, in their singular lack of commitment to the subject, pale when compared with Reichert’s. Kuspit writes: ‘The image of an isolated human being in the process of being annihilated by the world and his own anxiety is one that speaks to every person in our anomic society. What makes Reichert’s crucified Christ modern is his angry incomprehension at his suffering.’ Read More:

---Although the critic Donald Kuspit has written in a mildly disparaging vein when referring to the Crucifixions of Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso when compared to Reichert's, it is only fair to say that Reichert was fascinated by the Crucifixions of both painters, but found Bacon's classic work Three Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1946) far more moving than Picasso's characteristically "cubist" approach; however he found Picasso's weeping heads of Dora Maar (of 1937 in particular) of much greater consequence with regard to his own vision of Christ's torment. ----Read More:

But what of Picasso’s Crucifixion? Here, the icon is emancipated and disrupted; an undoing of the identity and not towards a spiritual emancipation. The avante-garde monsters of Picasso are now enmeshed with reactionary Catholic medievalism, or rather medieval iconography under the influence of avant-garde incursion of the rape and pillage variety. A apocalypse fetish in which there is a disconnect between material surface and theological ideal:

Picasso de-positions the thieves from their normative places, on their crosses, at either side of Jesus. In the Gospel narrative we hear nothing more of the thieves after they have had their legs broken, at which point Christ has already uttered the consummatum est; but Picasso’s Christ is still being crucified, while the thieves have met their doom. This subverts the Bible syntagm. And the low move with which Picasso jumbles the thieves’ bodies (a fall mimicked by the red bird at left – an unholy spirit) undoes the theological formatting of Dysmas and Gestas (to give the Good and Bad Thieves their apocryphal names), which bipolarised them according to the dexter/sinister logic of Christ’s right and left hands, the dualism between salvation and damnation. Again, the Longinus figure spearing Christ may be ‘fairly clear,’ but he’s heterodox. Like the deposed thieves, he does violence to narrative time. In the gospel according to John the spear in the side comes after Christ is finished, whereas Picasso’s Christ seems as yet only to have received two of his nail-wounds, so that his excruciation should be only just beginning.
But if it is the wound, it is dry; it emits no salvific blood and water – the symbols of the Eucharistic and baptismal sacraments, the foundations of the Church. Similarly, Longinus’s role as a symbol of paganism’s redemption – tradition identified him with the centurion who realised Christ’s divinity – is immediately undermined by the unusually clear reference Picasso makes in the figure to the corrida picador, forcing analogy between Christ and the bullfight bull, in a piece of anthropological relativism. Read More:

---Picasso craved sex while always vilifying and seeking first to dominate and then to destroy his many women. Huffington believes that in this he was representative of our time, and that "Another profound way in which he mirrored our century was in his deep ambivalence toward God and the divine.... He trumpeted his atheism at the same time that he identified with the crucified Christ and returned to this theme in his work during all the great ordeals of his life" (p.12). This ambivalence is amply documented in the book. All his life Picasso exhibited a deep belief in magic. For example, he "believed that in the wrong hands, his hair trimmings could be used to control him" . His magic world view was particularly significant for his Cubist painting style:...Read More: image:

So, with Picasso, there is an innate opposition to Catholicism and in its place is an intentionally rational idealism and an anti-modern mysticism  that is rooted in the notion of primitive sacrifice. An attempt at a Chrsitian art that would be demonical and heretical; a “free” expression of man before the impulses had been driven into the subconscious by Christian morality and scientific rationality. Obviously anti-theological , Picasso’s Crucifixion performs a parody with biblical notions of guile, moxie and elan subverted to the service of the individual’s emotions of the lower realms:

Rather than pious contemplation, however, the Crucifixion forces the viewer to experience a disaster of meaning and the subject. If we’re in the temple, as the etymology of contemplation suggests, then the veil is torn. Again, its affect is far from stable, veering between horror and hilarity, an improper mix for a conventional meditative image. Read More:

…The sadomasochistic disintegration of an infantilised masculine subject is the nucleus of the Crucifixion’s catastrophe. Like the apocalyptic manuscript, Picasso’s painting might be said to produce ‘grandeur’ through ‘direct and crude procedures’; but it is above all in the ambivalence
between horror and jollity, between the feminine screams and the grinning yellow skull at top right, that the two converge. This affective contradiction approaches the structural operation of the apocalyptic genre….Like Bataille’s writing, the Crucifixion does not tolerate the distinction of form and content. It signifies sacrifice and sacrifices the signifier. Simultaneously the central crucifixion sacrifices Christ, Christ’s form, Christ as form, and, in a phobic space between castration and abjection, Christ as phallic subject…

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