SZ Chapel is a digital fresco made by Saul Zanolari. It’s on scale 1:1 with the Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.
It measures 36×12 meters.
The first brush stroke has been made on March 4th 2013, the last one on May 6th 2015.
This is the first scene of the artwork.
Located in the center of the digital fresco.
Estimated dimensions: 3×4 meters.
The perspective changes: Adam is in the middle, between spiritual (tension to God) and animal instincts (the dog).
Two Ignudi (naked figures around the main characters) are surrounding the scene.
Eve has been painted as second scene composing the whole SZ Chapel.
Eve is lying on the grass and she gave birth to Adam turning upside down the biblical story.
Like in the real life the woman give birth so Eve is the mother of Adam and not viceversa.
The scene is located on the upper part of the SZ Chapel.
Two Ignudi are surrounding the scene.
Original Sin by Saul Zanolari.
A black Adam with a curly ginger Eve climbing him like a snake, tempting Adam squeezing his nipple.
On their right an Ignudo not looking at them but emulating Eve’s pose.
Placed on the top of the whole composition as is was the first step before to go deeper.
Third scene of SZ Chapel.
Dimensions: circa 300×400 cm.
God is presented as a Trilogy.
Creating the world he is divided in the 3 physic’s fundamental interaction: Gravity, Electromagnetism, Atomic Power.
God is the only dressed character of the SZ Chapel.
A solid gold slip and jewelry with symbols and formulas on them.
Ignudi are twelve athletic, nude males and females painted as supporting figures at each corner of the six narrative scenes that run along the centre of the artwork.
They are surrounding the scenes but not participating in them.
They are blind, wearing masks, not able to see what’s happening around them.
(Here pictures of the 12 Ignudi without a background).
Prophets are wise figures.
Isaia, Zaccaria, Giona and Ezechiele.
Between humans and Gods they’ve been depicted as “superhumans”.
Pink or green skin, three legs, they sit on a wood stick in a golden, rocky chapel.
Giona is on top of the artwork.
He has a fish eating his foot and he is contemplating the moon.
Two serfportraits are in the very center of the artwork depicting the author judging the audience (first selfportrait) and escaping the artwork (second selfportrait).
From the sky to the audience and from the audience to the sky.
The Sibilla’s trilogy is composed by Sibilla Delfica, Sibilla Eritrea and Sibilla Libica.
Gigantic naked figures with the eyes opened sit on stick of wood.
All three are partially covered by veils like the truth they are reveiling.
They (and the Profeti) are figures able to watch what’s happening in the scene.
Sirena is a Mermaid.
Half fish half woman.
She’s between two worlds as well: earth and ocean, human and animal.
She can’t see properly as she wears a mask which doesn’t allow her to watch the entire SZ Chapel even though she’s part of it.
Located just under the Atomic God on the Prophet Jonas and his fish’ side.
Reinventing a work of art that millions of people around the world are emotionally committed to, whether through an appreciation of classic art or through devout religious beliefs, takes, to put it bluntly, enormous balls. Yet this audacity is the driving force behind works of art that tries to decipher human nature and define popular culture.
The 38-year-old Swiss artist has been producing digital works of art that both critiques and elevates modern myths. Pop culture archetypes, from Paris Hilton to Anna Wintour, are depicted not as people but for the status and value that these celebrities are given by the culture at large and what exactly that says about us.
Utilizing a new digital fresco technique, Zanolari is now tackling one of the world’s most iconic works of art, The Sistine Chapel Frescoes by Michelangelo. By basing his latest project on such a ubiquitous work, Zanolari seems to be updating a 3500 year old fairy tale (the content) as well as redefining our relationship to a 500 year old idol (the artwork itself).
Approximately five million people visit the Sistine Chapel every year, drawing in an estimated revenue of 80 million euro to the Vatican. It can be argued that the main draws to the chapel are Michelangelo’s two frescoes, commissioned in 1508 by Pope Julius II and executed between 1508 and 1512. The frescoes are comprised of the ceiling, a large scale project which terrified the artist, then most known for his sculptures, and the Last Judgment, which spans the wall behind the alter of the Sistine Chapel. Controversial for its depiction of nudity, The Last Judgment spawned the “Fig leaf Campaign” and artist Daniele da Volterra later covered the offending genitalia.
Zanolari starts by deconstructing da Volterra’s grafitti and depicts his “existentialist description of man, his nature and the context where he lives.” with anatomically correct figures, inverted sexes, and hybrids of man and animal. By reproducing the original accurately but simply changing the details, Zanolari purges the original story of all the institutional and religious aspects and long held dogma attached to the work. And by presenting it to an audience who have held the wonders of technology and the experiences of media, plastic surgery, and science, the story unfolds in a way that is perhaps more relatable than the original.
Saul Zanolari has enormous balls.
-Roger Padilha, author of GLOSS: The Work of Chris von Wangenheim, Antonio Lopez, and The Stephen Sprouse Books-
From SZ Chapel book, published by JOYCE Hong Kong in occasion of the double show
SZ Chapel Beijing/Shanghai (2014)
It has been more than one year that Saul Zanolari has been working on a new vision of the Sistine Chapel using Michelangelo as inspiration.
A work which intricately focuses on every minute detail even those which many would describe as insignificant.
Joyce HK is presenting the currently half-completed work in their two galleries in Beijing and Shanghai as well as in a book.
Whilst the characters which feature in Zanolari’s work are those featured in that of Michelangelo’s, Saul has radically changed their function and concept.
He has created a brand new masterpiece which is not simply an imitation.
The artist depicts in his half-completed work six main scenes from the ceiling representing the Creation according to the Old Testament (the story of Adam, Eve, the Original Sin etc…), ten Ignudi and three Sybils.
“Ignudi” are human beings, naked, which are supporting and observing the main picture.
“Sybils” are mythological creatures with the ability to divine the future.
So, who is the main protagonist of this new artwork?
This unique irony is cleverly mixed with the main themes of life such as spirituality, travel, freedom, etc…
The artist takes the serious nature of Michelangelo’s work and converts it into an almost childlike cartoon aesthetic.
Nudity associated with spirituality has never been accepted, not in the 1500s nor in 2014.
In fact, nothing has changed given that Saul, just like Michelangelo, has had to cover the nudity of his characters.
To respond to this, the artist has created 2D clothes seen and worn by us on a daily basis.
“Uniforms” that form part of the common and easily recognisable imagery of the world.
This underlines that, although depicted as “divine beings”, these characters that Saul has removed from the ceiling, are in fact US.
They are the common people that you and I cross in the street, the audience of the show, the readers of the book.
Just like the characters of the Sistine Chapel, we live our lives admiring the work and drawings of something ‘greater than us’ even though we actually form a great part of it.
We are fragile and we are separated from our nudity by a veil.
Nudity is not just physical.
The veil is a uniform that we can easily change and remove.
Press release of SZ Chapel, Kir Royal Gallery (Valencia)
Saul Zanolari was born in 1977 in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
Since when he was a child he was interested in art and its forms of expression; especially painting.
In 2005 his interest moved from traditional to digital painting. He started to exhibit in several international galleries with artworks depicting reinvented celebrities and pop stars; investigating and exaggerating some of their typical features.
In his first solo exhibition in Spain, Kir Royal Gallery presents some of his portraits of famous people and models.
There will also be a selected works from his 2012-15 project; the remake of Michelagelo’s Sistine Chapel. Scenes and characters of Michelangelo’s masterpiece are recreated via a digital fresco technique keeping to the original scale but utilising Zanolari’s unique style.
In the digital fresco we can recognize some of the central stories.
We see the Creation of Adam, depicting the famous fingers touch between Adam and God and symbolising the transmission of the breath of life.
We also see the Creation of Eve where the figures of Adam and Eve are inverted from the original image and the Original Sin with a black Adam wearing only a golden thong; and the Flood replaced by a modern siren.
Saul preserved Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel composition and many other original features like the muscled female’s bodies (despite Michelangelo’s models being men) and the naked bodies, which Michelangelo had introduced in the pre-censorship original version.
Saul’s version of the great artwork is rather ironic with a slice of humorous malice.
He depicts the Ignudi, are blindfolded with black masks as in an erotic game. Sibyls and Prophets are depicted with a strong voluptuous and sensual charge.
Beside these, the artist adds a personal mythology, his own Olympus including the Nuclear God, with the atom symbol in gloves and slip; the Magnetism God, throwing his rays in the sky; and the Gravity God, blue and six arms like the Hindu God Shiva, but with the planets in his hands and an apple, Newton’s apple or perhaps Eve’s.
Finally, in the centre of the composition, as a supreme God, the artist portrays himself, Creator of his World and his Work. A self-portrait in which he points the finger at the viewer as if the viewer were subjected to his judgment and not the contrary as it should be. A game of glances and perspectives, such as the ones of the portrayed subjects, a product of the artist’s imagination; which includes every little detail, down to the reflection in each eye.
“SZ Chapel” de Saul Zanolari
C / Reina Doña Germana, 24
-María Ramis on MAKMA, Revista de Arte Visuales y Cultura Contemporanea-