One of the main pictorial works of the Church of Sant Joan has remained in the storage room of the temple for six months, an unworthy place for an altarpiece made just 250 years ago and restored in 1999 with public funds. The Lloixa Cultural Association has described this situation as “barbarous”, denouncing that it threatens its conservation, so they demand that the canvas be relocated immediately and ask the City Council to include it in the cataloging of protected assets. For its part, the parish insists that it was withdrawn to stop the deterioration it suffered and that it is kept in correct conditions to avoid damage.
Last July the Lloixa association denounced the “disappearance” of the Holy Family of Antonio Villanueva, which dates from 1770, explaining then from the parish that it was done to protect it from the currents, and that it was kept in the Church. Its privileged place at the entrance of the Church was occupied by a confessional, a new Virgin and a painting of Saint Josemaría de Escrivá de Balaguer.
Six months later, the Villanueva altarpiece remains stored in the area known as the “ambulatory”, a curved corridor that surrounds the main altar, which allows one to go from one side of the main nave to the other. An area that is mainly used as a storage room. There is the work of the Franciscan painter, architect and religious Antonio Villanueva, one of the jewels of the Church of San Juan Bautista. Covered with a cloth and incomprehensibly hidden from the gaze of the parishioners.
From Lloixa they consider this “outrageous” and that “it is not a way to preserve an 18th century altarpiece, the restoration of which was also paid for with public money.” For this reason, they demand “their immediate relocation and that the City Council expand the Church’s catalog sheet so that altarpieces, paintings and images are explicitly included” in their protections.
In this regard, the mayor of Sant Joan, Jaime Albero, indicated that he did not know the situation of the painting, but that he would study Lloixa’s complaint and his request on the cataloging, remembering that it is a matter of the Church.
This canvas, donated to the parish in 1939, was restored with public funds by the Generalitat in 1999. From Lloixa they recall that “the statement that said painting was removed to protect it from drafts is striking, and now it is discarded, without any protection and covered by a fabric that does not exert any protection. The remedy has been worse than the supposed disease.
For this reason, they consider that “the altarpiece should be repositioned on the baptismal font, which has changed location, since it represents the Holy Family. The current dark painting that represents Christ crucified on the font is out of place and is too gloomy for such an important moment for a Christian as Baptism. Furthermore, this Christ is a porter with no artistic value, when the canvas of Villanueva is hidden in the storage room.
For his part, the parish priest Roque Carlos Jiménez yesterday showed his surprise at Lloixa’s statements, since “the altarpiece is properly stored, covered with a blanket and in a suitable place to prevent it from continuing to deteriorate. It is not ruined. It was put away because the damage it was suffering from the currents was obvious ». Jiménez recalled that it was kept following the advice of the parish’s Fine Arts adviser, and that they are waiting to find a suitable place to exhibit it, since “works have been made that cost money” and “you have to go step by step to step ”, also highlighting that anyone who wants to can see the altarpiece.
And he added that he did not understand the manifestations of a cultural association like Lloixa, when he insisted that the measure only seeks to protect the canvas, pointing out that they only do what the regulations stipulate, “follow the advice of an expert in Fine Arts.”
The news about this “disappearance” of the Villanueva painting came out in July at the same time as the stoppage of the reform works ordered by the City Council, due to the lack of a license or permission from Culture, a deficiency that was corrected shortly after, with the works being completed in September after obtaining the permits. The works to replace the marble floor of the altar and put an end to the dampness of the Rosario Chapel, did not have authorization despite being an Asset of Local Relevance, indicating the parish priest that it was due to a confusion, since they thought that with a permit for previous works was sufficient. And Podemos denounced the damages caused by those works.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.