It was inevitable: Beast Jesus is getting its very own arts center in its home of Borja, Spain. The town opened its newest cultural offering this week, El Pais reported, to celebrate the 19th-century fresco–turned–internet sensation, three years after amateur art restorer Cecilia Giménez transformed a painting of Jesus into a hazily daubed, gaping primate.
Borja Mayor Eduardo Arilla said the center — located a few meters from the 16th-century sanctuary housing the work — is intended to give “the painting a new impetus” and help the town continue to attract up to 30,000 annual visitors. Post-Giménez makeover (and with it, internet virality), Elias Garcia Martinez’s “Ecce Homo” swiftly began attracting thousands of tourists and their money. While in 2012 Arilla had said he didn’t “understand it” after paying the painting a visit, he’s embracing it wholeheartedly now: the center will celebrate Beast Jesus’ journey from little-known artwork to viral meme, featuring stories, photographs, and videos related to the restoration and its impact. Canvases will be available for visitors inspired to paint their own Christ-like creatures, and of course, new Beast Jesus merch is hitting the market — don’t worry, it will be available on Amazon — offering items such as T-shirts, books, wine bottles, and teacups.
The artiste behind it all, now 85, attended the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, accompanied by the granddaughter of Martinez himself. Giménez, getting perhaps more than she ever dreamed of, will receive a cut of all proceeds from merchandise sales — a pretty sweet reward for a botched restoration.
Join Hyperallergic for an online conversation with Kiowa Tribal Museum Director Tahnee Ahtone on January 25 at 7pm (EST).
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