Why this artist covered Santo Niño in black acrylic paint
Chalk Zaldivar’s “acrylic on jesus” paintings mimic the traditional family altar, with a crucifix and a Santo Niño figure painted over with black acrylic
Feb 17, 2020
Curated by Stephanie Frondoso and helmed by 30 artists, Art House is an exhibit that reflects the intimate and complex nature of homes through paintings and installations designed to represent a regular house: mimicking common areas like living rooms and private spaces like bedrooms.
One of Art House’s more intriguing presentations is Chalk Zaldivar’s “acrylic on jesus” paintings, which imitate a traditional family altar. His work is comprised of a crucifix and a Santo Niño figure painted over with black acrylic and placed alongside a bible and a rosary.
“Back then, it was automatic to have a space for your altar in every house,” Zaldivar says. “We had an altar before in our house, but no one was going to church. I guess a lot of families are like that.”
“I don’t know if it’s just virtue signaling or just people complying with what other people are doing. So this is me like, ‘Hey, I have an altar in my house.’”
The choice to work on an altar for this exhibit stems from its meaningful yet intriguing nature, and a desire to work on images that are seemingly taboo. “I don’t work on other religions only because I didn’t experience it,” he says. “I was baptized Catholic and spent my elementary and high school days in a Catholic school.”
A lot of the elements present in his paintings are ultimately rooted in artistic choices. “Black acrylic doesn’t mean a thing,” Zaldivar explains. “Mostly when I paint figures of people, I usually use black so colors would pop out more.”
“I also considered painting over a Jesus photo but it seems like it wasn’t as strong as these two (the crucifix and the Santo Niño) figures,” he says. “Space was also a consideration since I was working with a lot of other artists, too. I didn’t want the altar to take so much space.”
“At the end of the day, it’s just wood. A painting is a canvas,” he notes. “For me, we shouldn’t take these things seriously. This is why I mock some masterpieces from time to time.”
Art House will be on view at Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery from Feb. 6 to 29.
Header photo courtesy of Chalk Zaldivar
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