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Mass of the Encounter

Mass of the Encounter

Mass of the Encounter: A Case Study
Paintings of Pedro Figari / Photos of  Rodrigo López

In April 1919 Pedro Figari travels with his family to the nearby town of Pando to witness “The Procession of the Encounter”, a religious ceremony that would take place at dawn on Easter Sunday. Figari arrives one day ahead in order to attend the preparations of the Christian ritual: the mass, the arrival of the parties, the “Encounter” of the images of Christ and the Virgin, the arrival at the temple.
Figari, an atheist who subscribed to evolutionism, was particularly drawn to the sociological side of the matter which he immortalized in a number of beautiful and inspiring pieces of artwork.
Some aspects of the procession have changed since then such as the schedule and the route and new details have been added but like any true rite its essence repeats cyclically.


"Easter 1919 was approaching. Somebody told my father that in the nearby town of Pando a Spanish priest had been celebrating a lovely traditional mass every Easter Sunday for the past several years  […] the lighted, flower filled church, its doors wide open to let the light blue clad group of altar boys join the procession behind the musicians. They were followed by Christ, covered in a red velvet cloth as he was carried by four men  […]
Expectation was everywhere as the procession was going round the town square. The Virgin was about to appear but the people did not know where she would appear from. Each year she would reach the town square from a different street as she had been kept in a different house the night before. Yes, four little old men dressed in black, their heads white, brought the Virgin covered in a poorly adorned black cloth and surrounded by flowers. The devotees ran towards her as she arrived.
Everyone kneeled as she met with Christ in the middle of the street where the houses that morning looked like newly blossomed flowers, pink, green or cream colored.
The procession returned to the church now that the beautiful “Encounter” had taken place […]”

Delia Figari de Herrera
As strong as feeling, Buenos Aires, 1958.


The work of photographer Rodrigo López carried out on the eve of Easter 2011 aesthetically tenses the immutability of the ceremony and the ephemeral nature of the circumstances, delves into the atmosphere of circumspection of the faithful, follows the path of the polychrome wood figures and in doing so repeats Figari’s contemplative quest with his personal point of view and the means available at present.
With keen observation, López provides relevant new information for a case study.  It provides an unusual opportunity to determine to what extent Figari’s work serves as historical testament of past events or if the artistic liberties he takes as a “painter of memories” in any way underpin or distort the documentary value of his work.
This photographic exhibition takes place within our museum’s research initiatives and is displayed along with works by Figari. It brings forward new aesthetics with all the peculiarities resulting from the different means of expression.


Translated by Claudia Ghiorsi

Mass of the Encounter: A Case Study

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Dirección Nacional de Cultura