Does the Holy See? Pope Francis Collaborated With Domingo Zapata and Mr. Brainwash on a Painting at the Vatican

The trio painted a canvas celebrating immigrants.

Domingo Zapata painting with Pope Francis in May 2018. Photo courtesy of Domingo Zapata.

The leader of the Catholic church, Pope Francis, has made some unlikely friends in the art world. Yesterday, he and the Spanish artist Domingo Zapata and former Banksy protégé Mr. Brainwash teamed up in the Vatican to paint a canvas in celebration of immigrants.

“I’m a citizen of the world and a constant immigrant, and I come from a humble background,” Zapata said in a statement. “The subject of immigration, therefore, is important to me, especially in an age where people want to build walls between countries. I disagree with this thinking. I want to raise the issue and make a point out of it.”

Mr. Brainwash, naturally, added his signature phrase, “Life is beautiful,” to the canvas.

During their time in the studio, Pope Francis also named Zapata an ambassador for the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes Foundation, the pontiff’s organization for promoting arts education.

This is actually the second time that Zapata has collaborated with the pope. They painted together last May, an encounter that Zapata filmed and played on a video billboard in Times Square for a month.

“I have literally never been as happy as this. The Pope painted in front of me. I’m ecstatic about the results,” Zapata told Riddle Magazine at the time. The canvas was later sold for $500,000 at a charity auction.

Domingo Zapata and Mr. Brainwash painting with Pope Francis. Photo courtesy of Domingo Zapata.

Domingo Zapata and Mr. Brainwash painting with Pope Francis. Photo courtesy of Domingo Zapata.

In addition to winning the approval of the pope, Zapata has also ingratiated himself among numerous Hollywood celebrities including Lindsay Lohan, Johnny Depp, and Kim Kardashian. But he remains on the fringes of much of the contemporary art world. When the New York Times profiled Zapata in 2013, major galleries and critics were quick to admit their ignorance. Said dealer Zach Feuer: “I don’t know who he is.”

The new painting collaboratively made by Zapata, Mr. Brainwash, and Pope Francis will be sold at an auction to benefit the pontiff’s art foundation at a date to be determined.

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