Lo Spasimo continues the theme of commercialisation, whilst utilising a trompe l'oeil style of painting. The red sticker overtly borrows from the language of the consumerism and is jarringly placed within a deeply spiritual scene. It appears to sit on the surface of the painting, as though it were a real sticker. Upon close inspection, there even appears a hint of residue left where the sticker would have sat before it was folded, compounding the illusion. The fold invites such a scrutiny, as the partially covered lettering needs deciphering. Once understood, the proclamation of “Half Price” first appears out of place as there is nothing (including the painting itself) for sale, but also seems particularly vapid in juxtaposition with Mary's ebullition.
Whilst the sticker is clearly distinct from the scene, it may also be seen as within it; the positioning, beyond Mary's arms, suggests that she is actually grasping for the sticker. This, combined with the intentional cropping of Christ from the image, insinuates a symbolic reading in which the commercial has usurped the divine's place of predominance. It is the trite promise of a saving rather than the sacrificial suffering of the Messiah that triggers Mary's fit of emotion. Debord describes this usurpation: 'Following in the footsteps of the old religious fetishism, with its transported convulsionaries and miraculous cures, the fetishism of the commodity also achieves its moment of acute fervour.'1 Lo Spasimo conveys the soteriological quality that augments contemporary consumer capitalism. To further this notion, there is a loose visual association between the red circle of the sticker and the stigmata of Christ. The implication is that salvation is to be found through consumption, or perhaps more in accordance with capitalist ideology, consumption is salvation.
1. Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle. 44
Lo Spasimo, 2015, Oil on Panel,10x15cm