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Jesus Christ, All I Want is to Express Myself

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Sweet Jesus, 2019

by Bobby Padilla

Acrylic on Antique Paper

with paper clay sculpted frame, 16" x 12"

This isn’t heavy for me. The relative weight of the discussion of faith or religion, politics or social idioms is not too much for me to lift. I know, we shouldn’t discuss religion or politics at work or family functions, or in the context of a blog, right? Instead, keep it light, stick to painting and art. The unequivocal truth is that if you were somehow able to total all the art ever made, 1/3 of it is based on religion, faith and spirituality. For a moment, take away all the dogma. Peek through the kaleidoscope of religion as reflected through the lens of art. Share the stories of your faith in whatever god you believe in, and I’ll tell you mine. If you show me your iconography, I’ll show you mine! I won’t think your dumb either. Perhaps, that’s why religion and politics are taboo. I can agree or disagree with what some of your beliefs are or who you voted for, without thinking you’re an idiot. Well at least not to your face. Ok, I’ll step down from my soapbox, and besides I think I just heard it crack.

Sweet Jesus (Detail)

Initially, I found the framed picture of Christ and the Sacred Heart at a local flee market with the simple notion of sugar skulling Jesus. Kitsch wasn’t going to be enough for what I wanted to accomplish. For the record, I’m not a religious person but I am deeply spiritual. I saw more than a straight forward portrait of Jesus Christ and the Sacred Heart. I saw an opportunity to address my own beliefs in what faith is. Along with issues of being Puerto Rican and Native American with cultural abandonment issues, Jesus was going to help me say a few things.

Sweet Jesus (Detail)

Some of the symbolism is pretty straight forward, some a little more veiled. Without getting to particular, I wanted to make an uplifting and optimistic piece that would be respectful to Christians and non-Christians alike. It sounds corny but it is a little celebration of hope and peace in these sometimes socially disheartening times.

Sweet Jesus (Frame Detail)

So some technical notes. After purchasing the framed piece for $5, I separated the image from the frame. The image was on very thin antique paper, something along the lines of newsprint. I had to mount the thin paper to watercolor paper so it would be workable. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get the ripples out, giving the piece a certain unintended character. It was far more important to get the narrative right. You don’t realize how many weeks it took to find the right symbols and precise placement of them before it finally began to make sense. Once that epiphany unfolds, then conveying my thoughts to you is easy. Then it’s just process and execution.

Sweet Jesus (Frame Detail)

As I finished Sweet Jesus, I began to address the frame. I stripped and sanded the frame down. Other than keeping it oval, I knew I wanted to re-imagine the surface quality. I used paper clay to sculpt out the visual elements on the frame. Then painted it with the considerations of marrying the colors and symbols of the painting and frame to form a complete piece.

Sweet Jesus (Detail)

So there it is. I’m proud of this painting. And you can bet your sweet ass if ever I’m out junking or antiquing and come across a dusty old picture of The Last Supper or The Pieta, I’m jumping on it! Because I’ve got plenty to say about who you surround yourself with and what to eat.

I encourage you to comment. Like it, love it, hate it, have an opinion about it. I won’t think you’re dumb, at least not to your face.

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