The last edition of The Kick-About featured the works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, artists celebrated for shrouding familiar things by which to re-vivify their significance. This week, our collective creative muse is Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas, another famous artwork equally shrouded to produce speculation and especial attentiveness. Enjoy this latest selection of new works made in a short time.
“I find this painting fascinating because it raises so many questions, and not just about differing viewpoints. It’s not a family group portrait, as the King and Queen are barely there. It’s not a painting to promote the Infanta’s status or prestige, as the people surrounding her are of little political or religious significance. And why is there a man standing in the doorway – is he coming or going or what? There is a sense the artist has captured a moment on the cusp of some great event, but what could it be? As I couldn’t answer any of these questions, I decided to ignore all the facts known about this painting or this group of people, and make up my own story. There is no truth in my story, but I believe it to be true of its time.”
“Not long into KA#72 I realised a Vanitas could highlight some thoughts on Velazquez’s Las Meninas, and later came realisation that 3-D might more easily set-aside symbols of wealth associated with interiors. It is not a Danse Macabre, more a comment on the transience of life, futility of pleasure, and certainty of death. The Spanish Mastiff deserved centre-stage, not because an animal on-stage removes all attention to everything else happening around it, more likely due to the increased love extended onto dogs as result of Covid-19. (What I’ll be doing when Halloween rolls up – is anyone’s guess). ”
“What really resonated with me in regards to Las Meninas is how ‘meta’ this painting is, in so much as it is a painting about painting; it deconstructs itself by signposting its own artificiality and constructedness. For me, it produces a keen mise-en-abyme effect, as one constructed reality reflects another construction, with surfaces reflecting other surfaces in plain acknowledgment of illusion and artifice. It just feels very playful to me, so with that in mind, I set about bringing together as many reflective surfaces in one space as possible to play a few games of my own.”
“I loved the self reflection and self insertion with this painting. I decided to focus on the many frames throughout the studio and, in the same manner, interject some of my own self into my illustrations by adding other photography and drawings within the frames themselves, and into a studio only an artist could make sense of.”
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“This painting is very intriguing, as there are so many possibilities. My ‘take’ is that Velazquez is hoping to paint a normal family picture of the Spanish Royals, but the little ‘infanta’ has other ideas and will not co-operate. Perhaps she stamped her little foot and turned her back on him so he had to reposition not only himself, but the King and Queen also. It was a Prince Louis on the balcony moment! Her ladies-in-waiting tried to coax her to behave and even brought her beloved dog along to try and calm her, whilst various other courtiers were gossiping, “What a terrible child!” Meanwhile the Chancellor has decided to make a discreet exit out of the back door. Fascinating!”
“Velázquez’s painting never feels comfortable to me – courtly children. I jumped off using a picture of one of my lovely nieces (all of them adults now) taken by my sister or mother. It feels full of awkward childhood happiness to me. I added the far side of the street and car to complete it and, in the end, it feels quite unnatural and weird!”
“I know this is considered one of the Great Masterpieces of Western Civilization, and I don’t dispute that it’s painted with great skill, but I can’t muster any enthusiasm for it or any emotional connection to it. Perhaps it’s my distaste for the opulent, decadent, and callous lifestyle of its inhabitants. Still, I can make anything into a collage.”
flect in unintended
thing human is
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“This is low-tech verging on Blue Peter, but it was interesting to play around with the characters and change the dynamics a bit. So the dog has assumed prime position, with the infanta becoming a doll under the arm, the two others creeping away at the back, and to help it all along, a cup of tea brought in by the true ‘maid’ in all this! I’ve put myself into the first one as the recorder and included the open door, though nobody has yet appeared… The mirror reflects the back of the figures so trying to introduce the real/ unreal element. Wish I’d had more time to explore the mystery of shadows and dark spaces, which is very Hitchcock.”
Just before I introduce our latest prompt, I wanted to say a lovely big thank you to regular Kick-Abouter and oracle-whisperer, Kerfe Roig for so generously gifting me one of her art pieces produced for The Kick-About No.70. I just really loved Kerfe’s Hilma Af Klint-inspired image, and told her as much, and was rather thrilled to have it arrive a few days ago – along with a 2023 calendar featuring Kerfe’s animal collages, drawings and paintings. A lovely thoughtful gesture – and posted all the way from NYC too! Thanks again, Kerfe!
Now for our next prompt – a single word, but one with eight tangents at least…