A PAINTING of the Virgin Mary cradling an enormous penis in place of Jesus Christ has sparked outrage in Australia.
Griffith University in Brisbane has said it will not remove the image of Mary manhandling the massive member despite an outcry from church groups.
The work, titled Holy Family by Aussie artist Juan Davila, is a pastiche of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, The Pieta, which sits in the Vatican.
It is currently on display at the university Art Gallery in Brisbane as part of an exhibition called The Abyss.
Davila does not talk about his work, his agent Kalli Rolfe said, but he “often tackles complex subjects”, according to 9News.
She added: “To try to remove a work from an exhibition is the tactics of a dictatorship rather than a democracy.
“Juan Davila is one of Australia’s most revered and prominent artists
“This work challenges the hypocrisy of the church.”
The Australian Christian Lobby has called for the artwork to be removed telling The Courier Mail: “As a publicly funded institution, Griffith has a moral obligation to the community they serve.
“No one denies that we all have different views of what is acceptable or not in art.
“It can be explicit and challenging, but an image such as this, which humiliates and defiles one of the most famous women in history, does not belong in a public university.”
The painting is owned by a couple from Brisbane who loaned it to the gallery for the exhibition.
Griffith University’s Pro Vice Chancellor Scott Harrison defended displaying the explicit artwork on the basis of freedom of artistic expression.
He said in a statement: “Art exhibited at the Museum can at times be, confronting and challenging, but always thought-provoking.
“Upon entry to the exhibition there are clear signs stating that the exhibition contains graphic content with nudity and depictions of violence.
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“Museum staff are available at all times to provide clarity and context to the exhibition’s artwork, including the 1985 artwork Holy Family by Juan Davila.”
One of the roles of the museum is to feature work that stimulates critical debate, Professor Harrison said.
Davila’s artwork has been displayed at New York’s Museum of Metropolitan Art, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Victoria.
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