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County Tipperary, IRELAND (ChurchMilitant.com) - An acclaimed Catholic artist has climaxed his suite of 26 oil paintings on Pope Francis with a devastating indictment of the pontiff's anti-Latin Mass decree Traditionis Custodes and a grand finale, "The Fall of Rome."
"'The Fall of Rome' is an allegory of the Bergoglian captivity," Irish painter Eugene de Leastar tells Church Militant in an exclusive interview. "Sometimes artists can see things rather than understand them in a verbal way."
"This pope says he personally deserves criticism because he is a sinner. If I want to criticize a sinner, I can paint a self-portrait," says de Leastar. "I have painted his papacy because it is a demonic perversion of Catholicism."
De Leastar, whose works have received rave reviews from art critics for their "originality" and "Christian clarity," has painted a scorching theological and psychological critique of Francis portraying the pope as "a relativist ideologue given to gesture piety."
In an exclusive review (printed below) of "The Fall of Rome" for Church Militant, English art critic Caroline Kaye notes de Leastar's satirical painting is a stark portrayal of "Bergoglio's strange death wish for the Church."
"The various enemies of the Church are welcomed and celebrated, and Her faithful are set aside, unnoticed by the depicted clerical characters," writes Kaye, a well-known artist and biblical scholar.
Another critic, describing de Leastar as an "uncommonly clear-sighted artist with an uncompromising commitment to his vocation," explains how the artist peels "away skin after skin until some essential and hitherto unsuspected element of the model is laid bare."
De Leastar explains his depiction of Traditionis Custodes — Francis' controversial motu proprio that abrogates Pope Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum — as "a visual play on the warning of Bp. Fulton Sheen that there would be an 'ape of the Church.'"
"What malevolence of heart wants to destroy tradition by pretending to uphold it?" asks the painter about Francis. "He is like a stubborn infant throwing a fit because he is not getting his own way. That is why the papal insignia on the paper he is holding is as though drawn by a child."
De Leastar also laments: "But I believe Bergoglio's attack on sacred tradition is not because tradition itself offends him but because like all demons, he is afraid of the sacred. He wants to sink Catholicism in a global miasma of indifference," de Leastar laments.
Still, he is reluctant to offer an interpretation of his artwork. "Artists talking about their own works are perhaps the lowest form of intellectual discourse," he believes.
He says he was also reluctant to paint "The Fall of Rome" as he hoped he would "no longer have to face Bergoglio" after he finished painting "Traditionis Custodes." Instead, he "wanted to concentrate on a forthcoming exhibition on images of Venice and of the River Shannon."
"And yet when I looked at a large blank canvas in my studio, the image of the statue of the Virgin being attacked by demons came to mind," de Leastar says. "Inspiration comes in moments of unconscious contemplation; I paint first and rationalize afterwards."
De Leastar says Our Lady's statue in "The Fall of Rome" was a reminder of statues that were removed from Ireland's hospitals so as not to offend atheism and Islam. It is a symbol of our "cowardice and capitulation" and "of the collapse of Christianity in the West."
In the painting, Our Lady points to the Blood of Christ being desecrated as it spills from a chalice tilted sideways by a kneeling bishop. Nearby, "the Bergoglian primate, who sits on an altar with a masonic symbol, points to a Pachamama idol being revered."
The painting has demons attacking Our Lady's statue but "in reality, demons would flee the presence of the Mother of God as they know how that story will end," de Leastar explains.
Below Francis are former archbishop of Milan Cdl. Carlo Maria Martini representing the scheming of the St. Gallen mafia; Abp. Annibale Bugnini, who was responsible for destroying the Latin Mass; and Jesuit paleontologist Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, "the high priest of Christo-Pantheism."
Below the trio is pro-gay Jesuit Fr. James Martin, who represents the "calculated assault on marriage and gender and would have us believe that Jesus would 'accompany' him in a 'pastoral' way on the road to Sodom," de Leastar remarks.
On the left of the painting is a "quack bishop" referencing a book on Luther. Beside him is a figure reminiscent of Belgian cardinal Godfried Danneels — the mastermind of the St. Gallen mafia — who advocated the strategy of first plotting privately and then following up with public incremental action to subvert the Church.
Next to him, the bishop with the staff (which ends as a phallus) steps on a clerical collar. On the opposite side, an Amazonian bishop bearing the Pachamama idol with his counterpart tramples on a monstrance.
De Leastar paints a smiling Viennese cardinal Christoph Schönborn wearing purple — an allusion to an 80-square-meter purple sweater designed by a "porn artist" and hung over the baroque High Altar for Lent at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.
"I gave Schönborn prominence because he has fostered a stunning contempt for Jesus in the most gross anti-Christian and homoerotic artworks he has allowed in his diocesan museum and cathedral in Vienna," notes de Leastar.
"I have only shown him holding a balloon!" the Irish artist quips. The balloon symbolizes the emptiness of postmodern art, which says that "art should be questioning, even shocking."
The body of the great anti-modernist Pope St. Pius X lies under the altar. "He is not encased in a bronze or wax mask but is living flesh to symbolize that his words hold true," de Leastar observes. The stained glass window is from behind the Baldacchino in St. Peter's Basilica.
"With Bergoglio, Rome has fallen," the artist laments. "However, Jesus did not mention Rome when he promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against his Church."
"I hope never to soil my brushes with his image again," says de Leastar, who is hoping to exhibit his "Bergoglio Suite" in Rome, where he feels he would be going "into the belly of the beast."
Art critic and painter Caroline Kaye's full review follows.
In jest one quips, "Is the pope a Catholic?" when something appears to be obvious. These days, the joke fails to find its target. With his apparent fondness for all things Marxist, the current pope would appear to be anything but Catholic.
Bergoglio attempts the feat of Catholic and Marxist triangulation. If only he channeled his fondness for the tripartite into upholding the tenets of the Christian Trinity.
It is Bergoglio's strange death wish for the Church and all it has supported and nurtured over centuries that Eugene de Leastar's satirical painting, "The Fall of Rome" pointedly rams home to us.
The painting resonates with a dark poignancy. Divided into three main areas of action alluding perhaps to the Trinity, the triangle motif is then repeated, as if to draw attention to both Bergoglio's political triangulation and the resulting slippage and disorientation of the Trinity, now depicted as destabilized.
Each portion in the painting depicts one of three factions in opposition with baying, animalistic and cruel faces, demonic expressions, alongside laughing figures who show no awareness that they are standing upon the symbols of faith, in both senses of the phrase.
The various enemies of the Church are welcomed and celebrated, and Her faithful are set aside, unnoticed by the depicted clerical characters. Faith is represented in the form of Pope Pius X, the anti-modernist who lies in the background of the painting as a living witness rather than being encased in bronze.
Above him dance the wriggling demons who drag down an unadorned cross, whose shadow is cast ominously behind.
The message is clear. Bergoglio's triangulation is itself the perversion of the trinitarian structure that has shored up the Church hitherto and is now being dismantled, one little piece at a time.
I may be getting ahead of myself here; how do I know this was de Leastar's intention? I do not. Bear with me.
In the Western tradition, art and religion were (however, are no longer) inextricably linked. Many works of art were never considered to be "art" in the modern sense of the term, nor were they created by people who thought of themselves as "artists."
Often works (such as altar pieces) were created for the purposes of devotion, prayer or religious education. They were, in a sense, Christian objects in themselves, not representations.
In the contemporary secular world, such works have been repackaged as aesthetic commodities, valued and traded. In the social sphere, they are vehicles for political derision and have been superseded by endless repetitions of Marcel Duchamp's urinal as "conceptual art," itself a kind of satire.
The modern art student has, for some time now, been encouraged to subvert the tradition into which he aspires to excel, and this is not merely one of artistry, but Christian religion. The student does not know this because he is never taught anything about these things.
In its place, he is encouraged to achieve "appropriate outcomes," to satisfy "assessment objectives," to make his work "relevant" to ensure that his "outputs" have "social impact."
This, as de Leastar alludes to in his own writing, is not a path of discovery but a formulaic, systematized approach. Dry and stale, it is a little like painting by numbers. We now see the making of art as something that can be systematized into a process akin to utilizing flow charts, to ensure we are "on message."
This distancing, masked as a kind of "truthful" objectivity, invariably requires the inflection of the artwork with Marxist hues.
The artist, instead of "drawing," rather draws upon the tools of critical theory either to deconstruct and position Christianity as something to be overcome, or to construct an homage to the latest politically correct fad — not so much painting by numbers as propagandizing.
Therefore, when de Leastar presents his allegory of "The Fall of Rome," the danger is that it may be misinterpreted as celebrating the very catastrophe of which it so clearly despairs. But the more nuanced reception will understand it for the powerful satire it is.
Consider the world that is opened up to us beginning with the incremental destruction of Our Lady's statue, which is rhythmically hammered to pieces.
Consider Bergoglio the literal primate, his lower half as a monkey, pointing to an image of idolatry; the allusions to progressive sexual mores and the implied sliding of identities brilliantly conveyed through painterly means; and the demons which populate the picture alluding to all that Bergoglio has allowed into the Vatican.
Moreover, Bergoglio has not merely invited but summoned these demons right into the heart of Christian authority. Bergoglio has, it seems, relinquished his own responsibilities (lest this needed mentioning) to all and sundry in a suicidal attempt to appear "modern" and "equal."
Furthermore, the figures standing upon the clerical collar and the monstrance remind us with a sharp vividness how these symbols represent the foundations that have supported our civilization.
That one could trample upon the very symbols and structures supporting one is indeed the perversion at the heart of the picture.
Bizarrely, how could the various recognizable figures that are portrayed in the painting possibly object to the barb with any credibility? The sympathetic viewer's sly pleasure rests on the recognition that the current culture of objectifying "deconstructing" critique, mockery even, is one they have brought upon themselves in their quest for sexual licentiousness, permissiveness and Marxian materialism.
They discover now that critique and mockery can work both ways. This perhaps goes for modern art also, for how can it make sense of de Leastar's satire, which laments the loss of Christian morals and faith? These are aspects that are now made artistically redundant and are deliberately forgotten.
Where does "The Fall of Rome" sit in the new scheme of things? De Leastar recognizes the importance in modern times of art as a process of discovery. One paints to find out what it is one has painted.
Additionally, this means the notional viewer makes some of those discoveries. This is an organic, ground-upwards process, not a top-down painting-by-flow chart. There is no formula here, no list of aims and objectives.
In this sense, "The Fall of Rome" is a quintessential modern painting par excellence, where the only true radicalism now sits within the recognition and building upon an artistic and religious tradition. We might call that conservatism or we might recognize a powerful piece of conceptual art when we see it.
Caroline Kaye is a Ph.D. candidate in art history (Interdisciplinary with religion and theology and biblical studies) at Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom.