Peruvian Sistine Chapel restored Automatic translate
In a remote Peruvian village located at an altitude of 3100 meters above sea level in the Andes (700 meters higher than Machu Picchu), there is a South American version of the famous Sistine Chapel. This elevated nickname was given to the baroque-built San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas church, located 41 km west of the colonial city of Cuzco, thanks to a complex pattern of ceiling painting.
However, centuries-old mud and bat droppings, coupled with earthquakes, significantly ruined the pristine beauty of the church. The World Monument Protection Fund drew the attention of regional and national organizations to the deplorable state of the church, after which it was decided to restore it.
Restoration work lasted four years, investment in the project amounted to about 1.5 million US dollars. The church of San Pedro de Apostol was built between 1570 and 1606. “Every inch of the church is decorated — walls, ceiling, beams, everything,” says Carol Damian, Latin American art specialist, director of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami ) “Some differences in writing style suggest that the church has been decorated by several artists for quite some time,” she adds.
Damian believes that the artists who worked on the painting had a fairly high qualification. This can be judged by the intricate mural patterns, for the motives that can be seen here. “The murals are dominated by Arabic motifs and geometric images, which are characteristic for the art of the Incas,” she says. Damian suggests that the artists worked in turn, at different times. One can definitely establish authorship of only two of them: the Jesuit priest and humanist Juan Perez de Bocanegra (Juan Pérez de Bocanegra) and, who worked under his supervision, the Spaniard Luis de Reaño.
In particular, de Reano’s brushes belong to such key mural scenes as the road to hell and paradise, created approximately in 1629. Damian suggests that under the leadership of Reano himself, a whole team of indigenous artists also worked, which was common practice for the colonial period.
Large-scale restoration of the frescoes began in 2008. Throughout the entire period of restoration, the church was accessible to visitors. According to Marcela Pérez de Cuéllar, president of the World Monument Fund of Peru, the closure of the church was not even planned. “We kept it open for the benefit of the local community, which has close ties to the church,” he says.
Most of the work was aimed at stabilizing the mural, the main parts of which were made using the tempera technique. To fix the painting, organic materials were used, for example, liquid extracted from cacti. Some parts of the mural were under a layer of later images that had to be cleaned. So, "The Road to Hell" was covered with four layers of paint. During the restoration work, a 17th-century ceramic pot containing ocher pigment and a wooden brush, which shed light on the materials used by artists of that time, were discovered.
When it came to the decorative ceiling made of clay and straw, the traditional building materials in the region, restorers were faced with the need to remove a large amount of bat droppings that had accumulated in the space between the roof and the ceiling.
During the implementation of the project to restore the church, the altar and sculptural compositions were also restored. Another Baroque church, San Juan Bautista de Huaro, has also been rebuilt, and the foundation is now seeking the necessary funds to restore the church of La Virgen de Purificada Canincunca. “These churches are wonderful examples of the baroque art of the Andes during the colonial period, and we strive to preserve them,” says Perez de Cuellar. He hopes that the implementation of these projects will attract a flow of tourists to the region.
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