Archives for posts with tag: Borja Spain


We just received the year-end report for the Silver Birch Press blog and learned that our top postings for 2012 featured Cecilia Gimenez, the 80+-year-old Lady from Spain whose good-intentioned but ill-advised restoration of “Ecce Homo” — a portrait of Christ’s face on the wall of her church in Borja, Spain — made her an international art superstar.

Despite (or more likely because of) all the controversy, Cecilia is thriving — creating new paintings (drafted with admirable skill) and looking well rested (and always well dressed).

Happy New Year, Cecilia. Thank you!

Photo: Cecilia Gimenez and a recent painting.


There’s just one day left for the ebay auction of “Las Bodegas de Borja,” a 33×22 cm oil on linen painting by Cecilia Gimenez, the octogenarian whose botched restoration of “Ecce Homo,” a fresco on the wall of her church in Borja, Spain, has brought her international acclaim. Current ebay bid for the landscape is 1020 Euro. Cecilia donated the work to Caritas, a Catholic charity, which put the painting up for auction.

I looked up “bodega” and found three meanings — wine cellar, storeroom, and grocery store. Not sure what Cecilia is depicting in her painting, but I’m impressed by her drafting skills. Olé, Cecilia.


It’s been a while since we checked in with Cecilia Gimenez, the 80-something artist from Spain who decided to dust off her paintbox and try to fix up Ecce Homo,” a flaking fresco of Christ’s face on the wall of her church.

At first, Cecilia was in trouble for botching the restoration — which was so off the mark that it even inspired a zombie-looking Halloween costume. The church threatened to sue for the cost of a professional restoration, but the situation gained so much international notoriety that soon tourists, gawkers, and art aficionados were flocking to Borja, Spain — boosting community revenues and adding to the coffers of the church, which charged a fee to view the fresco.

The next plot twist occurred when Cecilia Gimenez demanded a cut of the proceeds. I believe she also intends to trademark her artwork — which is appearing on T-shirts, coffee mugs, postcards, and other lucrative sites.


The Cecilia Prize was established to honor the artist who has inspired so many others to pick up their paint brushes, colored markers, Bic pens, and worn-down pencils — and begin to create art. The contest has received over 5,000 submissions from people offering their own wild and varied forms of “Ecce Homo” restoration. Whether you are a believer, nonbeliever, atheist, or agnostic, The Cecilia Prize is a philosophical exercise in contemplating the endless faces of the ineffable, the mysterious, and the creative spirit.

In this blog, we’ve featured entries that serve as homage to famous paintings or are rendered in the style of renowned artists (Warhol and Picasso, for example). Today’s entry by Mark Ferguson is based on René Magritte‘s celebrated painting “The Treachery of Images” (1929). The French phrase in the painting (“Ceci n’est pas une pipe”) means “This is not a pipe.” The joke is that it’s not a pipe — just a picture of one. (Sort of like “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”)

I have a feeling that the Belgian Surrealist would have enjoyed the whole Cecilia Gimenez passion play. According to my go-to source (okay, it’s Wikipedia), René Magritte‘s work “challenges observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality.” And, after all, isn’t Cecilia Gimenez doing the same thing?


It’s been a while since we checked in with Cecilia Gimenez, the 81-year-old amateur art restorer from Borja, Spain — now famous for her botched restoration of her church’s fresco “Ecce Homo.” Cecilia is back in the news. Until now, she has been waiting for the church to slap her with a bill for a professional restoration of the fresco — but the tables have turned.


Her painting is now drawing tourists — and the church is charging for a glimpse of the fresco. Spanish newspaper El Correo reports that Cecilia has sought legal representation to copyright her work and obtain royalties for it.

Judging by the way Cecilia is clutching her wallet in the photo at the top of this post, I’d say she has a good chance of winning. 


The Cecilia Gimenez Internet frenzy shows no signs of abating, with endless media coverage of her botched art restoration of Christ’s face on the wall of her church in Borja, Spain.

I find the story fascinating for many reasons — mainly how art, commerce, and religion overlap and intersect. Is the “ruined” fresco now more valuable than ever? (Judging by the interest and crowds it’s attracting, this seems to be the case).

How do we determine value? What makes something valuable?

What is beauty? Are we born with an innate esthetic sense or is this a learned behavior?

It’s up to artists to ask questions and explore where those questions lead — and that doesn’t mean manufacturing answers. It means trying to understand the questions. Let the discussion begin!

Whether or not someone believes in a supreme being, Cecilia’s handiwork makes us stop and ponder the ineffable — and challenges us to see the divine as a dynamic, evolving force.

To this end, the good folks at have created (to quote the website) “The Cecilia Prize for amateur restoration in honour of all the fixers out there.” The prize is “a poster of the restored Ecce Homo, the painting by now world-famous Cecilia Gimenez.”

The site includes a gallery of entries (nearly 2,000 so far) created by people trying their hands at restoring Ecce Homo — and attests to mankind’s endless capacity for creativity. My favorite, Ecce Magritte, is included above. (Submitted by Twitter @danwillygreenPinterest also hosts a gallery of Cecilia Prize entries here.


The Guardian has reported that online sensation Cecilia Gimenez — who rose to prominence through her botched art restoration of a 19th Century fresco — is suffering from stress and anxiety.

According to the British publication, “Cecilia Giménez, the well-intentioned amateur restorer from the Spanish city of Borja, is reportedly in bed after an anxiety attack, with neighbours and relatives suggesting she feels overwhelmed because of the media frenzy over the unintentional damage she caused to the mural.”


We wish Cecilia a speedy recovery and hope she is up and about very soon. For those unfamiliar with her work included at left is a before and after version of Andy Warhol‘s portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

Get well, Cecilia!


St. Cecilia (pictured at right) was martyred in the 2nd Century A.D. and spent her final moments singing — the reason she’s the patron saint of music. We have to take a moment and say that her namesake Cecilia Gimenez (about whom we’ve written several satiric posts) has given Silver Birch Press a reason to sing — and is a saint in our book.


Since we started running the posts a few days ago, traffic to our blog has quadrupled. People are posting links on Facebook and Twitter, while others are finding the articles through search engines.

Cecilia Gimenez is to the Silver Birch Press blog what Hugh Grant was to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Who would have thunk? A big shout out to Cecilia Gimenez in Borja, Spain. Gracias, Senora!


Before her art restoration at the Sanctuary of Mercy Church was rudely interrupted by local officials in Borja, Spain, Cecilia Gimenez, 81, intended to repair the neglected 19th century fresco to work off some her Purgatory time. Let’s face it, at Cecilia’s advanced age, she thinks about such things — thinks about them a lot!

Now, Cecilia has found a new way to apply her artistic talents — and do good works that will shave away some time in the fiery furnace. (Note for Non-Catholics: Purgatory is like hell — only temporary.) She has volunteered at a Spanish tattoo parlor (see below), where she has agreed to tattoo images of winged beings onto the assorted and sundry body parts of the unholy unwashed.


Cecilia thought this penance would be akin to the Lord washing the apostles’ feet, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way. To date, she has not felt a sublime union with the divine — but has only experienced an endless barrage of ridiculous requests for unnameable creatures and obscene sayings.

When she offered to draw winged creatures on the tattoo parlor patrons, she thought she would be inking in angels, cherubs, and even an archangel or two. Instead, she’s faced with persnickety customers who expect her to recreate intricate drawings of Pegasus and every last flying demon from the Inferno.

Cecilia has decided to keep the gig until she figures out another way to do penance through good works.



Amateur art restorer Cecilia Gimenez, an octogenarian from Borja, Spain, has struck again — this time attacking a fellow woman and fellow Latin, legendary artist Frida Kahlo.

Since Cecilia did not have an original Kahlo self-portrait within easy access, she did the next best thing — applied her renegade restoration brush to a Nickolas Muray photograph of Kahlo (see below).

Asked why she had defaced the prized photograph, Cecilia responded, “Defaced? I’m just showing Frida Kahlo for what she really was.”

When asked what she meant, Cecilia said, “Don’t get me started! Just Google Frida Kahlo’s views on religion and politics and you can find out for yourself.” Despite repeated prodding, Cecilia refused to say anything more specific.

For the record, Frida Kahlo is beloved around the world for her artistry, courage, creativity, sensitivity, and inspiration. But, to Cecilia Gimenez, Kahlo is just another icon to bring down to size. 



Cecilia Gimenez, 81, still doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about — and has no idea why news outlets around the world are criticizing her handiwork. (The arbiters of taste don’t like the way she restored a 19th century fresco of  Christ on the wall of her church in Borja, Spain.) But she knows her work is excellent — no matter what the elitists say.

After all, didn’t an early critic call Henri Matisse‘s work, “A pot of paint thrown in the face of the public”? Didn’t the art world call Picasso‘s cubist paintings “devilish and insane”? Didn’t they call Dali‘s surrealist works “deranged”? Cecilia feels that these examples — and many more  she won’t bother to cite — prove that the art elite don’t know the real thing when they see it.

But there was one art critic who understood — Clement Greenberg, who said: “All profoundly original art appears ugly at first.” So there!

Despite all the media attention, Cecilia found time to apply her craft to an Andy Warhol masterwork — his portrait of Marilyn Monroe (below). (For the uninitiated, Cecilia Gimenez’s version is on the right.) When asked why she had selected this particular painting for her next effort, Cecilia responded that she’s long been an admirer of the American icon and for years has modeled her hairstyle on the deceased blonde’s locks.