.- The sculptor of a much criticized statue of Blessed John Paul II has defended his work and suggested it could, one day, be regarded as âa classic.â
âNaturally, I understand that is it not conventional, and the proposal might create a different look to what was expected,â Italian artist Oliviero Rainaldi told CNA in his first media interview since the row surrounding the statueâs unveiling in May.
âBut there are so many beautiful photographs. Why do we need a photographic resemblance?â
At the time of its unveiling, the Vaticanâs newspaper LâOsservatore Romano described the 12-foot bronze statue situated outside Romeâs Termini train station as having âlittle resemblanceââ to Pope John Paul.
âThe result is not what was intended and his face on the top of the statue bears little resemblance and already there has been much criticism â¦ it makes him look like a tent â¦ it looks like a bomb has hit,â the paper said.
The President of Romeâs Cultural Commission, Federico Mollicone, went further, calling it âa permanent and sacrilegious mud stain on his memory.â
Meanwhile, a poll in the Italian La Repubblica newspaper found that 87 percent of the general public also disliked the statue. But Rainaldi is unfazed by such negative reactions.
âWhen Michaelangelo's David was first taken into the Piazza della Signoria in the middle of the night, everything, including the dimensions, were different from what they (people) expected.â
âI'm just making an example, not to draw strange comparisons. But we need to make comparisons like this. Then, over time, they became classics,â said the 55-year-old artist whose modernist work has gained him success in both Italy and the U.S.
Certainly the Vatican is in no rush to cut artistic links with Oliviero Rainaldi. In fact, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasiâthe head of the Pontifical Council for Cultureâhas asked the Italian sculptor to be one of 60 artists that will create a work to honor the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedictâs ordination to the priesthood this month.
Richard Rouse, also of the Pontifical Council for Culture, observed that Rinaldi is âsomebody whoâs been criticized but is continuing to work and thatâs a wonderful thing.â
Although his sculpture has received a lot of criticism, Rinaldi said he put real thought into the Pope John Paul II statue.
âThe man within was more interesting to me than the man outsideâ describing a man who was âlaceratedâ inside ânot only by his infirmity but also by his mission.â
âThese are often things that even the people who are close to you, and love you, don't want to see. Often we want to (see) that they are strong, beautiful - but it is not always the case. This man showed he was beautiful for others reasons beyond his appearance.â