VATICAN CITY — Artist David Lopez Ribes noted the importance of his wife and children in his life as he received the award in the category of painting from the Pontifical Academies at the Vatican.
The Spanish father of six told Catholic News Agency after the Nov. 21 event that although he does not have one particular masterpiece among his work, “If there were one, it would for sure be my family.”
Lopez Ribes is a multidisciplinary artist devoted to painting, sculpture and video art; he is collaborating with Kiko Arguello — the founder of the Neocatecumenal Way — on an aesthetics project for liturgical spaces around the world.
He said a large part of his work “is putting this at the service of the Church, at the service of the faith, at the service of the liturgy, but also starting a dialogue with people today who don’t go to church through contemporary art, a language that they understand and that can introduce them to new ideas.”
The goal of man is to find beauty, Lopez Ribes said, adding that he has found it.
“It is Christ, and we want to share him. When we look at contemporary man, what we see is that he is immersed in a process of desecration, of the loss of the sense of mystery and transcendence.”
“The work I do is focused on bringing mystery, transcendence and spirit back to the image through painting, sculpture and also through the contemporary and radical language of video art, for example, which I think holds great spiritual possibilities,” the artist said.
Lopez Ribes recalled that after submitting his work for the awards competition, he made a pilgrimage to St. Peter's Basilica to pray at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II.
“I just asked him for one thing: that if this is going to be something good for my kids’ faith, that that was all I really cared about and (for him) to help me. If not, I don’t want it,” he recalled.
After several months, he received a call from Rome. The Pope had looked over the finalists and chosen him for the award.
“It was extraordinary news, and I thought, I don’t remember whose feast day it is today, and you know what? It was Blessed John Paul II’s,” he said.
“That day I said, ‘This is very clear, I have to go with my kids,’ and here I am. I have come with all my kids.”
Along with Lopez Ribes, Polish sculptor Anna Gulak and Italian sculptor Jacopo Cardillo also received awards.
The Pontifical Academies celebrated its 17th public session at the Vatican on the theme “Pulchritudinis fidei testis: The artist, like the Church, as witness to the beauty of the faith."