Looking for Jesus

In his work, Jonathas de Andrade focuses on personal histories and brings them into contact with the social, political, and ideological realities in which these histories occur. From a private and intimate perspective, he sheds new light on social issues, such as the notion of failed modernism, cultural amnesia, and issues of representation. His anthropological research poses a new perspective on historical and current events through the fictionalisation of universal truths. The artist often works with documentary material, which forms the basis of his exploration into the social and cultural conditions of the place where he works. This historical material becomes interwoven with his own findings and imagination, creating an intricate web of fact and fiction. In doing so, De Andrade is able to make social dynamics and internal power relations visible and palpable in a subtle manner.

A Tale of A Tub invites the Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade as the second participant of its International Residency Program. The point of departure for the invitation was the artist's project Looking for Jesus, which he developed during a stay in Amman, Jordan. There he started looking for an alternative and contemporary version of the face of Jesus: a face that complies with a non-western standard of beauty. The twenty portraits that De Andrade presents as a possible Jesus do not depict the white man with blue eyes we know from Western iconography.

De Andrade interviewed the twenty portrayed men in Amman and asked them what they thought of a contemporary version of Jesus. As such the artist brings up the complex relationship between East and West, and between Christian iconography—in which the image of Jesus is widespread—and Islam—which forbids the representation of God and his prophets. Simultaneously De Andrade decolonises the dominant image of Jesus from the Western canon by presenting the new Jesus with an Arab appearance.

Visitors to the exhibition at A Tale of A Tub are invited to select the new face of Jesus out of the twenty portraits. In doing so, De Andrade organises an alternative election which coincides with the Dutch parliamentary elections of that year. During a time of increasing fear around the adoption of “the other”, De Andrade breaks with existing and threatening image-making in an urgent and timely manner.


In 2015 A Tale of A Tub launched its International Residency Program with South African artist Igshaan Adams. This year he is followed by Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade. The International Residency Program focuses specifically on artists whose roots lie outside the Western artistic canon. Their practices address universal questions by zooming in on individual histories and local cultures. The artists are encouraged to make connections with the local context and histories in which A Tale of a Tub operates, with the aim of building bridges between the ‘global’ and ‘local’, and between international developments in art and the social and cultural conditions of the neighborhood of Spangen.

During his residency in Spangen, Rotterdam, the artist dives into the eventful history of the monumental Justus van Effen Complex, home to A Tale of A Tub. This history serves as a blueprint to gain new insights into the social and cultural conditions of Spangen, the most demographically diverse neighbourhood of the Netherlands. Over 80% of households in Spangen are of non-Western origin. In his research, De Andrade interweaves ideals of modernist social housing—on which the Justus van Effen Complex is based—with the complex social fabric of the neighbourhood today. His research led to the production of a new work presented at the end of 2017 at A Tale of A Tub.

Looking for Jesus is supported by OUTSET Netherlands, Mondriaan Fonds, and Crown Fine Art.


09.02.2017, 17:00 – 21:00
Temptation or Dr. De Clérambault & Looking for Jesus