By Srikanth Krishna
“The Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo is quite clearly one of the most famous works of art ever made. However, this time an Afro-Cuban, Chicago-based painter has decided to paint her own version of the masterpiece which has definitely raised a few eyebrows.
Harmonia Rosales painted Michelangelo’s work in 2017 as she reimagined YHWH and the First Man as black women. As the painting was made public, she did face a lot of backlash for her work. The painting went viral with thousands of likes ever since it was posted on Instagram three weeks ago. However, many on the social media platform weren’t too happy about it.
Rosales’s work, “The Creation of YHWH”, “is inspired by Michelangelo’s portrayal of God’s creation of Earth’s first human, Adam. However, critics have called her work of art as “disgrace,” “disgusting” and “cultural appropriation.”But what is truly surprising is the sudden uproar over this interpretation of “The Creation of YHWH”. Considering the fact that there are thousands of interpretations of the artwork, which included even Simpsons, taking a dig at the image. Even Arrested Development had used the art for humor reasons.
Meanwhile, Rosales described her art beautifully and justified her ‘Creation of YHWH’, according to Face2Face Africa “I wanted to take a significant painting, a widely recognized painting that subconsciously or consciously conditions us to see white male figures as powerful and authoritative and flip the script, establish a counter-narrative.”She continued, “White figures are a staple in classic art featured in major museums. They are the “masters” of the masterpieces. Why should that continue? “When you consider that all human life came out of Africa, the Garden of Eden and all, then it only makes sense to paint YHWH as a black woman, sparking life in her own image,” she added. Her critics had even asked her why she decided to recreate the painting rather than just creating her own piece of art. But, for Rosales, what people really wanted to know was her ethnicity. “They’d ask, ‘Are you part Asian? Where did you come from?’ … I was like, ‘Well, I’m Cuban and I’m Black too.’ I always had to figure out what I say to people,” she told OZY in an interview.
This can be even seen in her art where she wants to get rid of all sort of doubts involving the color of a person. “I paint my subjects darker because I don’t want you to mistake them for anything other than this pure form of where we came from,” she said. Rosales is a self-taught artist, who took classes and got herself admitted to the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts. She became known for her work right after her first solo show, Black Imaginary to Counter Hegemony (B.I.T.C.H.), at Los Angeles’ Simard Bilodeau Contemporary in September 2017.It involved seven pieces, including the controversial The Creation of YHWH, which was, not surprisingly, sold out within a week.