Australian artist, Ross Watson, was motivated by the Vatican’s position on homosexuality, and its ban on condom use, to create a painting which references Caravaggio’s ‘Crucifiction of St Peter’, and features French gay porn icon, Francois Sagat.
“Francois Sagat continues to play a valuable role in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention and education. I wanted to acknowledge that in the painting, whilst tying it to the Vatican,” comments Watson. “In contrast, the Vatican uses its status in the UN General Assembly to obstruct the promotion of condoms as protection against HIV/AIDS, and sexuality education in school curricular.”
“Some will regard the painting as provocative, but I don’t believe it is in contrast to the Vatican’s position on these issues. The Pope’s 2nd in charge recently claimed homosexuality and pedophelia are linked. That enraged me. It seems just and deserving to depict Francois Sagat as a contemporary saint, given he is helping to save lives, rather than contributing to causing illness and deaths for millions.”
“The great majority of Caravaggio’s patrons were from the Catholic church, and his paintings were sometimes rejected as they were viewed as inappropriate for a religious theme. I’m reminded here of my freedom as an artist. Imagine what Caravaggio might paint if he were alive today?”
Two Australian icons, Matthew Mitcham, the gold medal winning Olympian diver, and The Hon. Michael Kirby, a former High Court Judge, have recently featured in Watson’s paintings. Both openly gay, they are examples of positive role models, particularly for same sex attracted youth whose rate of suicide is 5 times higher than their heterosexual peers in many countries, including Australia.
Watson has works in the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Gallery of Victoria, and is represented in the private collections of Sir Elton John and James D. Wolfensohn, among others.
German publishers, Bruno Gmunder, will soon publish a book featuring Watson’s art from the past twenty years in recognition of his significance as an artist and contemporary cultural commentator.
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