Instantly recognizable, universal and so famous they transcend language and location: There’s a fine line between religious iconography and pop culture icons. Thanks to a pair of visionary Argentine artists, the line recently got obliterated. There’s no doll more recognizable than Barbie, a loaded character who’s been scorned and revered for her impossible proportions and reimagined into countless incarnations since her inception in 1959.
There’s also no one more legendary than Jesus Christ. Or his mother, for that matter. Marianela Perelli and Pool Paolini combined them, giving Barbie and her boyfriend immaculate makeovers, so to speak. In 2014, the controversy-stirring artists revamped 33 Barbie and Ken models into various icons, including Joan of Arc, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin of Lourdes and Judas, San Francisco de Assis and Krishna, respectively.
Now through December 31 at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles, you can absorb them in all their flashy, divine glory. In addition to the dolls, “Barbie, the Plastic Religion” features Byzantine-style oil portraits (look for Barbie as “Our Lady of Mattel” and Ken’s “Sacred Heart of Mattel”), 12 Via Crucis altarpieces, a nativity scene and a number of gold-leaf paintings. Blasphemous, genius, hilarious or all of the above: Only God (and you) can judge. It should be noted, however, Pope Francis and the Vatican happily accepted the “Our Lady of Lujari” Barbie as a gift.
The one-of-a-kind works are currently available for $700 a piece. Look out for more original works from the artists to come.