The Man Who Bears the Cross

There is a peculiar contradiction at the heart of Belgian artist Jan Fabre‘s latest project, ‘The Man Who Bears the Cross’. As a reflection on the relationship between heaven and earth, it is first of all an intimate dialogue within the self and an unspeakable dimension. But being an installation hosted in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, it also brings this personal quest across faith and religion to the public sphere.

The Man Who Bears the Cross by Attilio Maranzano

‘The man who bears the cross’ (2015). Silicone bronze, 394 x 200 x 100 cm. © Attilio Maranzano. Permanent sculpture in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Actually, the dialogic nature of this work of art is written in its DNA. Fabre’s project is not just the bronze sculpture showed for the first time to the public on 18th November: it has in fact been expanded into the exhibition ‘Jan Fabre. The man who bears the cross. Wax and bronze’, on display until 10th January at Antwerp’s At the Gallery. An art book edited by Mercatorfonds has also been published to accompany its inauguration.

‘The Man Who Bears the Cross’ not only represents the artist’s “very personal meeting with the cross as a sign of life and hope”, as notes Paul Huvenne, among the curators of the book with E. H. Bart Paepen, Kathy de Nève and Joanna De Vos. It also questions the belief of anyone who stops at the cathedral, and establishes a further dialogue with Peter Paul Rubens’ 1611 ‘The Descent from the Cross’, which is displayed right in front of it.

The Man Who Bears the Cross by Attilio Maranzano

‘The man who bears the cross’ (2015). Silicone bronze, 394 x 200 x 100 cm. © Attilio Maranzano. Permanent sculpture in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Just as for other works by Fabre, the bronze sculpture is modelled on the artist’s image. Yet, this self-portrait stands for us all, and represents a bridge in-between the two extremes of life, life and death, in this (in)visible dialogue with the unknown.