A FAILED restoration attempt on a copy of a painting by a Baroque artist, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, led to the urgency of tighter regulation of art restoration in Spain.

An art collector in Valencia was reportedly charged 1,200 euros by a furniture restorer to clean a painting depicting the face of the Virgin Mary in Immaculate Conception.

However, the work did not go according to plan and the face in the painting became unknown even though there had been two attempts to restore it to its original state.

The case of the restoration of works of art that failed before about eight years ago when a parishioner tried to repair the Christ Fresco by Elias Garcia Martinez on the wall of a church on the outskirts of Borja, northeast of Spain.

In addition to paintings, other works of art that were struck down by the failure of the restoration process are the 16th-century Saint George and the Dragon polychrome.

In 2018, the Church of St. Michael in Estella, Navarre, Spain, received the results of the restoration of a statue that changed the face of the Saint into a man with red cheeks and wearing armor that looked like a character from the Tintin cartoon.

Fernando Carrera, a professor at the Galicia School for Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage (Galician School), said such cases highlighted how restoration work should be carried out only by a well-trained expert.

“Can you imagine just anyone being allowed to operate on someone else? Or is someone allowed to sell drugs without a pharmacist’s license? Or someone who is not an architect is allowed to build buildings?” he was quoted as saying through the Guardian.

Despite the fact that art restoration experts are no more important than doctors, Carrera added, this sector needs to be tightly regulated in order to preserve the cultural history of Spain, or any country.

Meanwhile Michaela Anselmini, a professional art restoration expert from the Art Restoration Studio Sarasvati, revealed that the same thing is often found here when repairs of art are handled by amateurs who end in disaster.

“Often my job is to repair or save damage due to amateur work. That art restoration in Indonesia does not yet have an appropriate reference or standard, moreover the number of people with the right expertise to repair works of art is very small,” Anselmini said.

At present, because Anselmini is the only professional art restoration expert in Indonesia, in his work he applies the high-standard rules that apply in Italy regarding the conservation of cultural heritage.

“It is time. Indonesia needs professional education in the conservation of art. In 2016, I gave his first public lecture and workshop at the Bandung Institute of Technology,” Anselmini noted.

Likewise, the Head of the Curator of the National Gallery, who is also a lecturer in fine arts at ITB, Rizki Zaelani expressed his optimism that if conservation education is carried out as early as possible, Indonesia will have quality art restoration experts. Unfortunately, four years have passed and the art sector is still struggling to raise awareness about what restoration is and the science of art restoration which takes at least five years to master.

On a separate occasion, Rizki affirmed that before trying to raise public awareness of the importance of art or the urgency of restoration regulations, we need to classify what their priorities are.

“At least for ordinary people, awareness related to the value of art and the importance of restoration can be grown through historic relics which are state assets. Not all important works seem ‘beautiful’ as understood by the general public and not all expensive works also mean important to a nation, except maybe it is important for people who have them,” Rizki added.

Here, the role of related parties such as the government is obliged to develop progress from the skills, knowledge, and expertise of art restoration.

The Directorate General of Culture through related institutions, including the National Gallery and the National Museum, has obligations to monitor and preserve valuable works of art.

In addition, universities also have an obligation to develop knowledge and awareness of the importance of art restoration experts.

“Not only for now, but especially for the future, To preserve the history and value of national pride,” Rizki concluded. [ special]