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VELAZQUEZ at The National

By Brindlsey Snaresbrook III O.B.E.


Weíve not had an art review on Swine for eons, mainly because that bastard Sewell renaged on the 3 year tie in we signed him up on in the summer, suffice we canít say to much about it for the obvious reasons, itís in the hands of our people. And thatís that.

We had initially approached celebrity rapist Sezer off of Big Brother to do a guest review as a stop-gap, but he couldnít write more than 4 words in a row, never mentioned it in the interview either(itís gone legal), so the pleasure of reviewing Spanish dwarf fetishist Velazquez at The National, has fallen into my lap.


For those that donít know the National, itís on the north end of Trafalgar Square, just by Nelsons column, I think my first visit here was as a bum fluff 16 year old, kicking my heels and terrified after arriving in London one morning at 6am, having deluded ourselves that the ICF could be bothered, and were gonna get up early and meet us for a rumble by the all night boozers near Borough market (it never happened of course, thank god deluded young soccer thug fans . . . but they did welly us all over about 8 hours later), so whoíd have thought back then, that 22 years later Iím walking up the steps of the famous gallery opposite, with the honour as chief art correspondent no less, for cyberspaces biggest load of shite.

I'm not sure, but I bet the Daily Mail would love Velazquez, as a knee jerk reaction only (and theyíre good at them) because on the surface, his near photographic pin sharp portraits would, for them, be classed as Ďreal artí as opposed to that Tranny who won the Turner Prize with pottery with pictures of cocks on them and Dino and Jake Chapman with plastic figures of cocks stuck on them, and Tracey Emin who errr......goes on about cocks a lot......actually Iím with The Mail on this, all that really is shit, where I get the hump is that they deliberately lump all 20th century art in the same bucket, when 50's Abstract Expressionists like Kline, Still and De Kooning and Pop artists from the 60s like
Litchenstein, Warhol, and Rauchemberg were creating something new and different for a purpose, rather than sticking cocks on teapots in 2005, anyway I'm rambling here, what I'm meaning to say is if the Mail scratched the surface of Valazquez you'd find a painter for at his time (17th century) broke the mould and set standards for portrait painting that some would argue never to be matched.


Arriving at the National, I pay in (naturally, I'm no riff-raff), and take the long flight of stairs up to the exhibition room, I've read somewhere (probably The Mail) that for single men, the best places to cop off with birds isn't nightclubs, but supermarkets and art galleries, I've never put this theory to any sort of test of course, and I've decided that's a good thing, because unless what rocks your boat is into having a manage a trois with Anne Leslie and Maggie Hambling, your gonna walk away short changed at Velazquez, it's wall to wall art-whore pensioners, so I fight my way through the throng and into the first room of paintings, and even though I've come just before the gallery shuts, to miss the crowds, every painting has a scrum of OAP scum crawling over each other out to get a decent look.


For those who don't know yer Velazquez from yer Lionel Perez, he was born in Seville in 1599, and after training as a painter from the age of 11, he became a leading artist in the Court of King Philip the IV, which meant he painted a lot of posh rich Spanish people pretty much all his life(he died at the age of 61 in 1660), there are exceptions to this, most notably the first painting I recognise as I walk into the first gallery room, the truly amaaazing 'An Old Woman Frying Eggs' he painted this picture of a peasant woman in a Seville Eating House(17th century KFC/Burger King to you and me) when he was 19, the composition and lighting on this picture give a big clue to what an important artist he was to become...I suppose you've got to see it really(I'll put a weblink for him at the end of this) but it's fuggin brilliant, as I'm only familiar with his more famous works and the gallery's heaving I skirt round his lesser known paintings that are on show, which seem to me to be pretty much made up of dwarves wearing ruffles kicking shit out of donkeys and royal freaks who you can't quite work out are midgets or bairns(which got me thinking how many Royal dwarves are locked away in Balmoral?, mebees that's why they killed Diana, was she pregnant to a blue blooded muslim Midget?)


Anyway I then sort of go on a whistlestop mini tour of Velazquez's greatest hits. Next up is the stunning and slightly disturbing 'Christ on The Cross' from 1632, title says it all really, then 'Venus at Her Mirror'(The Rokeby Venus)...I didn't think Mark Venus ever played for Sunderland?, anyway that's the one painting yer Valasquez novice might recognise, of a woman showing her arse whilst looking at herself in a mirror held by a baby/cherub, the reason I like this painting so much as with most his other works is the darkness of the art, on most of his portraits 60% of the canvas is black, with the subject matter being heavily front lit, creating what is called in modern photography 'hyper reality', this style almost became Valazquez's signature, and influenced many a realist painter since  for an example of how Valazquez's influence is relevent even today look at some photographic examples here: www.ewenspencer.com or Finlay Mackays stuff and others on here http://corporate.gettyimages.com/marketing/m07/Cannes_Seminar/usa/16FinlayMacKay.asp and than look at paintings like 'Christ In the House of Mother and Mary' and 'Mars'(gay interest) from 1639 and you'll get what I mean. I'm getting ushered round the gallery now in a sea of pensioners catching out the corner of my eye the magnificent 'Portrait of Gentleman' 'Las Meninas'(which is a sort of a Jive-bunny mega-mix of all Velazquez's best bits, a dark looming fella, Velazquez himself, surrounded by an array of dwarves) and finally three paintings of midgets riding horses, which The National have hung next to each other, for laughs I reckon, and as I don't think I can stand the smell of lavender and tangerines much longer, and I'm starting to find half moon glasses a mild turn on, I dive out the exit(no readmittance either)..........actually I reckon we'll give Sezer a second go for next month......



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