Friday, December 3

The ‘Sistine Chapel’ of the European Romanesque comes to life in a documentary


Juan Naya’s life appears intertwined with promises. Born in Villanueva de Sijena (Huesca) in 1968, in the shadow of his monastery, as a child he assured his grandparents Joaquiner and Carmen that he would recover the medieval frescoes in his chapter house, almost totally destroyed by a fire at the dawn of the Civil War. . I had dreamed it. He was very intelligent and his father told him one day that he would come to NASA. This Aragonese astrophysicist worked in the American aerospace agency and has dedicated the last decade and a half to carrying out the documentary ‘Sigena’s dream’, in which he undertakes with the technological means at his disposal the reconstruction of the so-called ‘Sistine Chapel’ of the European Romanesque.

Six keys about the assets of Sijena that the judge has ordered to return to Aragon

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The way to this film, which is already being screened in cinemas across the country, gathers promises, coincidences and the curiosity of Naya, currently CEO of the pharmaceutical company Isdin, to discover the history of the monastery and its paintings. In 2007, he came across a book in a Barcelona bookstore with a volume with black and white photographs of the monastery that opened the spigot of memory, of the stories his grandparents told him. When Carmen took eggs to the cloistered nuns and watched in wonder all those works of art. His imagination flew towards the possibility of restoring that room and telling it in a film with traces of a historical thriller and the hand of Mexican director Jesús Garcés Lambert, winner of a Golden Globe in Italy for the film ‘Caravaggio. The soul and the blood ‘.

Sijena’s wall paintings date back to the 13th century and were almost completely destroyed by fire. The Generalitat de Catalunya transferred those remains to Barcelona and now they are exhibited in the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC), with a long legal dispute through which the town demands their return and that the documentary omits since its only The desire is to ‘dream’ what the chapter house was like in all its splendor and with the help of historians specializing in Romanesque art, restorers, digital artists and artisans. A choral work to bring a piece of the history of his hometown back to life and show it to the world.

An art thriller

The film lasts 106 minutes and is produced by Juan Naya himself, Xavier Atance, BNC Produccions and Dreamdigital Creative Works with the participation of RTVE, which will broadcast it when it finishes its tour of the commercial rooms: it can be seen in Barcelona, ​​Zaragoza, Lleida , Vigo or, from this Thursday, November 25, in Huesca. It is, above all, the effort of Naya, who has found “a good reception. Everyone leaves excited and wants to see it again. It is a beautiful story that moves, makes people laugh.” He defines it as “a thriller of art that takes you from one place to another in a very surprising way, connects with all kinds of audiences. From parents to grandchildren, it is multigenerational. ”

The reception has been “good” since its premiere on November 9: “There is interest in knowing and learning about this story and its adventure.” Naya finds as keys to this generated expectation that it is “a film with a character with whom people can feel identified. A Quixote in search of the impossible.” It also highlights the “quality” of the work of Jesús Garcés “with dreamlike recreations never seen in the cinema and a very well worked story. You have to see it in the cinema, the painting leaves the screen and surrounds you”. Likewise, the soundtrack in line with the images turns its viewing into “an experience for the senses”.

That something so incredible is in a place as lost as Aragón surprises everyone

It is about the discovery of a place “little known but of the highest level. There is no room like this in the whole world. That something so incredible is in a place as lost as Aragón surprises everyone”. That heritage that was lost in the flames is now revived with the help of digital technology, which allows us to get closer to what that chapter house could have been in its moment of splendor. “It is a project of years, twists and turns, joys and frustrations. We use digital technology to analyze and join all the information at the level of 3D programming, colorations, image corrections … to create an almost perfect working base”, he explains Juan Naya, who has had experts in mural and Mudejar art. This symbiosis allows “the greatest realism and rigor” in recreation, “you can bring the digital to the real through virtual or inverted reality, projections or even capture it on a mural.”

The chosen format allows Sijena to be taken anywhere in the world and complements the existing pieces that are currently being exhibited by the MNAC. The documentary was screened in the Aragonese town and there its promoter stays with “a lady who, crying, told me that as a child her grandmother and great-grandmother also told her these stories and that she had finally discovered how wonderful that place was. proof of concept “.


Naya wants that in a lost place “forever” she goes “from lament to enjoyment”. “It is still a place to spread and we must make the work known. It is an aperitif, when the film ends people want to see the place. They ask where it is,” he adds before throwing the gauntlet at the politicians: “The following is to give the possibility of seeing it and it would be good if the institutions that have shown so much interest were involved to publicize the chapter house in Aragon and other communities “, Naya launches as a proposal.

At the moment, in ‘Sigena’s dream’ it is discovered that “not only is it an extraordinary place in architecture, but also why it was installed in a desert place like the Monegros around 1200, at a key historical moment with the Crusades and the Reconquest. History puts him in the First Division of the Middle Ages, he is a Barcelona or Real Madrid of his period and there is nothing like it in Europe. ”



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