WARSAW, Poland — A new statue that depicts the late pope, St. John Paul II, throwing a rock into red water has provoked debate in his native Poland and revived memories of a 1999 Italian sculpture that showed him crushed under a rock, to which the new work was intended as a counter-statement.
The statue by Polish artist Jerzy Kalina, titled “Poisoned Well,” was inaugurated Thursday in front of Warsaw’s National Museum to mark 100 years since the much-loved pope’s birth on May 18, 1920.
Kalina, 76, said the installation in the museum’s fountain relates to John Paul II’s efforts in the 1980s to help free Poland from communism, which is symbolized by the red color the water has from a red fabric placed on the fountain’s bottom.
The artist, the creator of many works dealing with the Catholic faith and church, said he also wanted to send a “warning against multiplying forms of red revolution” and encourage the return to the “clear well.” He was apparently referring to the gradual disappearance of faith and religion in Poland.
But some critics associated the art work with blood and violence. The sculpture also drew ridicule on social media, with some commenters comparing the life-sized likeness of the canonized pope toting a rock to a cartoon figure.
The museum said the installation was Kalin’s response to “La Nona Ora,” Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s sculpture that showed the pope as “feeble old man” pinned to the ground by a huge meteorite.
Of course, anybody seeing this would make those obvious connections. Well not really. It does elicit other ideas for me.
Can a Pope create a rock so big he can’t lift it? Apparently no.
There is also some kind of Abbot & Costello routine in this:
Abbot: Did you see this picture of the two rocks?
Costello: No I only saw the man holding one rock.
Abbott: Yes, that’s the rock doing it.
Costello: You mean the rock is holding the rock?