Jorge R. Pombo
(Barcelona, 1973)
Variation on Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvador Mundi" (2)
Oil on linen
260 × 180 cm / 101.4 × 70.2 in
View on wall
Dimensions & Weight:
260 × 180 cm

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of

God he created them; male and female he created them.


The Ethiopians say that [the gods] are snub–nosed and

black, Thracians that they are pale and red-haired … But if

horses had hands or knew how to draw, horses would also

draw the gods like horses.

Xenophanes (circa 500 BC)

In 2017, the most expensive painting in history was auctioned

at Christie’s in New York: a Salvator Mundi attributed

to Leonardo da Vinci. The price paid by the investor was

around $450 million. The painting, dated between 1499 and

1500, shows Jesus Christ blessing us with his right hand

while holding a glass globe in his left, a metaphor for the

universality of his message. Both Leonardo and the person

who commissioned the painting imagined the Son of God as

an ideal projection of their own ethnicity: male, white, young,

and hypnotizing.

When I received the invitation from Cameroon to participate

in its pavilion, I thought I would recreate the image of the

Son of God as a Cameroonian would see it, and it seemed

even more appropriate to exhibit it in one of the capitals of

Christianity and the Counter-Reformation: Venice. I’m interested

in the idea of making a painting that carries the old

man’s credibility, but which presents an anachronism, inviting

us to ask ourselves whether or not we accept that character

as the Son of God, precisely due to the colour of his

skin … because in every other respect, he is the same as

Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi.

Three large-format paintings accompany this image in a

process of dissolution and dematerialization. If God exists,

it makes sense to believe that there is only one, because

it would be only too human to believe that there is one for

every ethnic group. I have always believed in the inconvenience

of venerating objects and symbols instead of God,

because centuries of experience show that we use them in

ways that oppose and separate us from any ethnic group

that is not our own.

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