La Montaña Azul (The Blue Mountain)Diego López Martínez (August 28, 1964 - 2012)
Cabezo de Torres, 30110, Spain
About the Artist/Site
The painted peak itself, located in the neighborhood of Cabezo de Torres less than three miles from the capital, Murcia, rises only some 163 feet above sea level, but it nevertheless stands in marked contrast to the surrounding plains. One might think that this mountaintop would be sought after by the elite for building homes with magnificent vistas of the surrounding verdant fields of citrus, but this neighborhood instead appears to be inhabited by those who need shelter at a modest price, if not, alternatively, their last resort.
Diego was the second and last son born to Matías and Asunción; Matías had an accident with his motor scooter and bled to death before his son reached his first birthday. His mother, a zealous Catholic, was lucky to have her parents living nearby; they helped her to raise the two boys, and there were extended periods of time when the boys stayed with them full-time. The boys were educated in a Salesian school whose Marianist beliefs later came to negatively affect Diego; his entire youth—education, friends, and family—was marked by the shadow of the Church and the strict discipline, guilt, and punishments that were considered appropriate at that time.
By age thirteen López left school and began working as a mason’s assistant. He used his wages to buy cigarettes and liquor and began going to bars and discos, making new friends with petty criminals and delinquents. He was first introduced to gay sexuality by a watchmaker who paid him 500 pesetas to let himself be fondled; soon this man sent him to his friends and López began turning tricks. He enjoyed it and the ease of making money in this way, and used his earnings to buy liquor, pills and hashish, then moving on to heroin. During this time he was also in and out of prison several times, generally for robbery, vagrancy, or being a public nuisance; each time he excused his actions as a result of his addictions. One night, roaring out of a disco at 90 miles an hour, he lost a wheel, and the car, spinning around with sparks flying, hit the barriers, which ultimately stopped it before it jumped a bridge. The car was totaled but, miraculously, he was unhurt. He felt that he had survived this accident because there was something important in life that he was meant to do.
Shortly thereafter, at the age of twenty-three, he had his first divine revelation, after which he came to believe that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. His family and neighbors obviously didn’t think much of his announcements, but he persisted, drawing parallels between Christ’s historical life and his own. For a period of time he ate only bread, water, and wine, and came to believe that this new existence gave him powers to judge humanity, and that it was his responsibility to unmask those he considered to be frauds or deceptive. First on his list was the Catholic Church. Again, as might have been expected, his neighbors and family thought he was crazy.
To draw and focus this energy, in 1999 he began clearing out some of the garbage on the summit of Cabezo de Torres and painting the banisters, walls, and other elements of the surrounding neighborhood blue. That next year, he also began painting the rocks on the top with a glossy blue, crouching over or reaching up to the rocks and painting them one by one. He was clear that this wasn’t his idea, but, rather, he was only carrying out the will of God. He spoke of his painting as art, and made conscious connections between his work and those traditional artworks historically commissioned by the Church. Nevertheless, when asked if he were a misunderstood artist, he demurred, saying that he was not an artist at all, but a prophet.
López worked on the Mountain for three years, then left for five years to resume his old habits and life on the road. Returning in 2009, he turned again to painting the Mountain, painting the tops of the “peaks” white to represent snow. But after only three months he returned again to his excessive drinking and drug-taking, and left the Mountain. He traveled to Tenerife and flirted with the idea of becoming a Franciscan monk or, alternatively, of moving to India, but in the end found a cave overlooking a beach, where he camped out; it was at this time that he received a message from God directing him to write the story of his life, so that people would understand his true identity as Jesus Christ. As he finished writing, he was not certain if he would return to the Mountain at Cabezo de Torres, and declared that he desired only to fulfill the purpose for which he had been born, and then to die.
Beginning June 29, 2009, six weeks following the publication of his “book” on the internet, López began uploading a series of videos; up until September 6, 2011, when he abruptly stopped, he had posted a total of 827 online. In most, he loudly introduces himself as the painter of the Blue Mountain and that he is a prophet and the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Although the first videos show him looking relatively “normal,” as time passes his hair and beard grow long and stringy and he grows thinner, appearing on the beach half naked, shouting into the wind. To my knowledge, López has not again returned to the Mountain, and garbage is again piling up on the peaks. As an open-air site, it is available for viewing, although it is in disrepair, and the paint is flaking in the hot sun and gusty winds of the summit.
~Jo Farb Hernández
Map & Site Information
Latitude/Longitude: 38.027596 / -1.123886
Sangonera la Verde, Región de Murcia
Rojales, Valencian Community
Lorca, Region of Murcia
Tavernes de la Valldigna, Valencian Community
Guainos Bajos, Andalucía